A couple days ago, I had a lengthy conversation with another Orthodox Christian I know well here in Greece. I forgot how we got onto the subject, but we discussed some of my viewpoints. We talked about Roman Catholicism, and how he thinks they aren't that different, whereas I believe they are. We also discussed historical viewpoints, and how I tend to reject most movements and things coming out of the West after the Renaissance because everything is effected by their incorrect theology, and their theology was shaped by their increasing emphasis on humanism and scholastic/scientific study.
I had told him that I hold up, contrary to Western Culture, the Eastern Roman Empire, and Russia. Not because I think they were a utopia (that is, I know they weren't perfect), but because Orthodoxy dominated those nations and cultures, and the Church worked with the government, rather than having a strict separation of Church and state.
I explained to him that I appreciate that Greece still maintains that relation between Church and State, and that the State helps the Church.
He countered that he believes those times are past us and we've grown. However, I believe that while we've moved past them, we've moved down the wrong road, and that Orthodoxy should be the official state religion, and the government should never give into secularism.
Everyone in the world should be Orthodox (though I recognize this probably isn't going to happen) and every nation should be Orthodox.
He asked about everyone else that isn't Orthodox, but I don't believe the others should be persecuted, they just won't receive the same treatment the Orthodox Church receives. According to the world, this isn't fair, but the Orthodox Church is THE Church, and no other Church matches up to her on any level. We must respect other churches and religions, but that doesn't mean they are equal to Christ's Church.
We discussed many other things, but needless to say, he took a point of view much more influenced by his own research, reading, etc... He prefers to take in all points of view and consider them, whereas I may read other points of view, I only take on the point of view put forth by the Orthodox Church. If the Church says Constantine is a Saint, I trust her, I could care less what wrongs he committed in life. If the Church says Christ turned water to wine, I could care less what science says. If the Church says the Council of Florence was wrong, and the Bishops that signed it became heretics, and that only St. Mark and the laity were right, then that is how it was. I realize there were other writings back then that contradicted St. Mark of Ephesus and others, but their writings are wrong and often heretical.
If the Church teaches that Constantinople fell because God willed it due to the unfaithfulness of the apostate Bishops that signed at Florence, then that is why it fell.
Sure I can question things about the Church, and I can even doubt my own faith, but as long as I return to trusting the Church, and trusting God, then God used that doubt to improve me. What reason is there to read heretical and contrary points of view? Sure I can learn their point of view and more about what they believe. But the Church is the one who is right, and I have no reason to even consider that these other points of view are correct. I learn about other world religions, not to change my own, or to consider theirs equal to my own. I learn about them so I don't misunderstand their position and so that we avoid conflict and misunderstanding. But in the end, it is the Church who is protected by Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the Church who holds the full truth...
I don't consider myself a kind of Orthodox fundamentalist, nor do I think I'm as extreme as Old Believers or others. I do think there is a line you cannot cross. But I think that too many Orthodox are willing to be influenced by the heretical West. Western Christianity has been moving away from God ever since it split from his Church. How can we possible trust any movements/teachings that came about after that point? We need to look at THOSE with great suspicion, not our own traditions.
I felt like my friend was greatly influenced by the West. While he is Greek, he did live some time in North America. I felt like his position was too "liberal", and that my own position was more "moderate"...
What are other opinions on these issues? Or any advice to me?