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Author Topic: Exposing the Christian Fantasy  (Read 3686 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 28, 2011, 09:46:49 PM »

Currently, I am working a letter to my Non-Denominational Pastor to explain why I want to have my name removed from the church as a member. I'm not trying to be childish, I'm not trying to get back at my Pastor - I'm doing it because after researching the Orthodox faith for approximately 2 years I have been exposed to a mountain of ancient, Orthodox faith-based evidence that does not concur with the modern Protestant faith. Knowing what I know now, I can not in good conscious continue to be associated with a church that is not connected to the Church that Christ established.

The first part of the letter is posted on my web site www.thejournalofareformingprotestant.com. I posted it so that I could share it with you guys to encourage comments, suggestions, correction, etc.

Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 10:03:48 PM »

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Pastor, I am starving for the truth, I am starving for what is real.

This is a great line, really it is. And it also cannot be denied.

Quote
If God does not change and is the same today, tomorrow, and forever (Heb. 13:Cool, then wouldn’t His Church that He is the head of (Col. 1:18) be as well? Wouldn’t His Church have to prevail throughout ever period of time to ensure that humanity was exposed to the full truth? But, how over centuries of time as humanity evolved and progressed could the Church remain the same? Is this not too difficult even for God? All we have to do is point to the number of Christian denominations today to prove that no single church has the full truth. Certainly, there had to be a point in time, maybe even a slight period of time, where God’s Church succumbed to a dark age loosing the truth that it was entrusted to preserve.

I came to the conclusion that nothing is too difficult for God (Jer. 32:17); therefore, the ancient Church that was entrusted to preserve the full truth must still be present today. If we are to believe anything else, then we are not truly free (John 8:82). If we are not truly free, then we are living in a Christian fantasy.

Wow that succintly sums up my position when I came to Orthodoxy as well.

In sum, I think it's a brilliantly well done letter and more importantly it comes from the heart.
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 10:11:38 PM »

While writing such an essay can be worthwhile, couldn't you just resign your membership without offering an explanation?
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 10:16:13 PM »

Very well written essay! And welcome to the forum! I truly enjoyed reading what you had to say, especially since it rang true to many of my feelings that led me to convert. I pray that you will have a wonderful journey to Orthodoxy.  Cool
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 10:24:48 PM »

While writing such an essay can be worthwhile, couldn't you just resign your membership without offering an explanation?

Though I understand your desire to sever your connection to your current confession, why wouldn't a letter simply saying that you no longer consider yourself part of that church?  When I resigned from my Lutheran congregation, I simply asked them to take me off their books with no explanation needed.

I really liked your essay and I found a lot of great points in there and I see that you are very much what I was when I left the Lutheran church--starving for the fullness of the faith.  But, as much as I agree with everything you said, this letter, well intentioned as it is, may only provoke arguments which you may not want to have with the pastor of this church which can lead to a lot of hurt feelings and words that may take a long time to forget and forgive.  Just my opinion.
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 10:32:47 PM »

You could just tell them that God is calling you to go somewhere and assure tham that you're not losing your faith.
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 10:34:38 PM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 10:46:44 PM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.

I corrected him about this on another thread and mentioned the Non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians surviving until today. It takes time to understand the nuances of such a complicated topic.
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2011, 11:07:17 PM »

Dear OP, such a letter to your Pastor is not necessary; you don't have to put your Pastor on trial to justify the Orthodox faith.  Millions, if not Billions, of Orthodox Christians have done the legwork for you.   Wink

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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2011, 11:11:41 PM »

Well as long as he is respectful it might be good to honestly hash these things out with his former pastor. I don't see why we shouldn't seek to correct other and lead them into the Church with us.
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2011, 11:14:03 PM »

Title's kinda harsh.
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2011, 11:16:39 PM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.

I corrected him about this on another thread and mentioned the Non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians surviving until today. It takes time to understand the nuances of such a complicated topic.

I wouldn't say anything if there was awareness of these 3 major traditions of Eastern Christianity and it was judged that EOy was the legitimate one. But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2011, 11:33:25 PM »

I would concur with those who opine that simpler is better.  Not because you shouldn't detail your reasons for leaving, but because I'm not sure polemics is a good exercise for such a young Orthodox.  I try to avoid polemical discussions (and, too often, fail miserably), precisely because I find that by becoming polemical, I hinder my own spiritual growth.  It is in those discussions that the uglier passions I suffer with are revealed -- pride, judgmentalism, etc.  I had that experience about a month ago with a Pastor I love dearly, but when he said something I took as critical, I became defensive and ugly.  Thanks be to God he is a better man than I and was irenic and gentle in his correction of my hubris, which was undeserved by him and unbecoming of me.  If you peruse my blog, you will see rather quickly another example where I engaged in polemics and where I failed in succumbing to those passions.  I left that post up because I stand by what I said on the subject matter, and I want to be reminded of where I failed in addressing that subject matter in Christian love for my neighbor.

That is not to say I always avoid polemics at all costs.  The last post I made before posting this reply is in direct response to a Lutheran who asked me to explain the difference between Orthodox and Lutheran views on the forgiveness of sins.  It's more that when I engage in polemics for polemics' sake (as opposed to trying to honestly answer a well intentioned question), it is rarely good for me and, I'd wager, never good for whomever I am in dialogue with.

When I left my Lutheran parish, I called the Pastor of that parish to tell him why we were leaving (short but sweet).  I had already had discussions with him prior to that and he knew the issues we had.  I posted this....

http://forheisgoodandlovesmankind.blogspot.com/2010/12/entering-holy-catholic-church.html

....when we announced we would be Chrismated at the Nativity.  The primary reason I posted that and in fact the primary reason I started the blog was it became apparent to us that our fellow Lutheran parishioners either had not been told we were leaving and why, or perhaps had been told but still thought we would be coming back.  Many of them were contacting us wondering when we'd be back, and on the one hand I didn't want to leave the false impression that we were just staying away for reasons other than doctrine (i.e., I didn't want anyone to think we were mad or sick or burdened by worldly cares), but I also didn't want anyone to think we were being lax and would just be back when things were better.  We were leaving because we found the Church.  They deserved to know that.  In between that time I had a lot of support and struggle (in a good way) with the Pastor who received us into the Lutheran Church (the same kind man I mentioned in the first paragraph above) and with several other friends who are Lutheran pastors to struggle through the Faith and be lovingly challenged so we were sure of what we were doing.

The point of this long post is this -- if you need to tell him why, my opinion is you are better off doing so in a fashion that states why directly, succinctly, and firmly, but also gently.  I would avoid words like "Christian fantasies," which can be needlessly offensive.  I would also encourage you to strive to say something nice about the tradition you are leaving.  After all, even though you are currently dissatisfied, surely there is something good there or you would not have remained as you did for however long you did.  I suggest this because it will "soften the blow" a bit, but more important because it will place your heart in the right place.  We Orthodox often say it is impossible to hate someone when you are praying for them.  I think this is the same concept writ smaller -- it's hard to be angry or hurtful toward someone to whom you are showing respect and honor.

And I would encourage you to pray for your Pastor, as I will pray for you.  This will be a hard time for your Pastor and it is a dangerous time for you (more so than you know, and probably much more so than I know, since I myself am so young in the Faith).  May God's peace be with you as you journey to the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 12:05:51 AM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.

I corrected him about this on another thread and mentioned the Non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians surviving until today. It takes time to understand the nuances of such a complicated topic.

I wouldn't say anything if there was awareness of these 3 major traditions of Eastern Christianity and it was judged that EOy was the legitimate one. But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.

And yet those have studied the divisions aren't following behind you. Stop with the smugness.
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 03:38:26 AM »

Currently, I am working a letter to my Non-Denominational Pastor to explain why I want to have my name removed from the church as a member. I'm not trying to be childish, I'm not trying to get back at my Pastor - I'm doing it because after researching the Orthodox faith for approximately 2 years I have been exposed to a mountain of ancient, Orthodox faith-based evidence that does not concur with the modern Protestant faith. Knowing what I know now, I can not in good conscious continue to be associated with a church that is not connected to the Church that Christ established.

The first part of the letter is posted on my web site www.thejournalofareformingprotestant.com. I posted it so that I could share it with you guys to encourage comments, suggestions, correction, etc.

Thanks

Nice! But...

Shouldn't your title then rather be: "Exposing the Protestant Fantasy"?

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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2011, 10:27:23 AM »

First, I'd just like to thank everyone who shared their opinion, and provided some corrective criticism. Below is my response to each of you:

Aposphet - Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

tuesdayschild - I agree that I could easily send a correspondence that just states that I am resigning from the church. But, I feel, and I could be wrong, that I would be missing an opportunity to share what I have learned. By sending my pastor a general letter without a detailed explanation I feel as though assumptions would be made; maybe he won't care at all. Yet, I feel a need to share, in a respectful manner, why I am looking to the ancient Church for guidance because it still exists (an idea that is not fully shared by my pastor from what I can tell from his teachings).

dcommini - I appreciate your input, like with everyone on here, it is nice to know that people care enough to assist me on my journey.

scamandrius - Your point is well taken and one that I considered greatly and to a point I am still considering. I tried my best to word the letter in a way that does not point the finger at my pastor like saying "you preach..." "you say..." When referencing Protestant teachings (that my pastor adheres to), I did my best to put it in terms of my experiences with those teachings, and how they lead me away from truths. I will definitely take another read over the letter to make sure that what I am saying is what I found to be true, but in a way that doesn't point the finger. I agree that no reason needs to be given, but if we stay silent about the situation, I feel, that I would be at fault to a degree for not sharing what I know by speaking the truth in love.

deusveritasest and Alveus Lacuna - bear with me friends, I am still a novice of Orthodoxy and will definitely research viewpoints that are Non-Chalcedonian and Nestorian. I did some preliminary research of the Nestorians and from what I gathered it appears that they have a different view of Christ than that of the universal Church and were labeled heretics and therefore there was a schism prior to 1054. Before, sending my letter I will clarify this point and maybe warn my pastor that I am viewing the Church from a Chalcedonian view but that there are others.

SolEX01 - I agree there are a cloud of witnesses that have already paved the way. However, it seems that my church is unaware, like I was, of the Orthodox faith because we have grown up in Western churches all our lives. I didn't know that the Orthodox Church existed until someone told me about it, and explained it to me. It wasn't a matter that I researched because I felt that I was under the right understanding as a Protestant. It was only after being presented with some thought-provoking evidence that I thought, "Well, maybe there is something to this crusty, old, faith called Orthodoxy..." Smiley

NicholasMyra - Your right about the title. I don't think I'm going to title the letter, but I am going to change it on my web site to read A "Christian" Fantasy Exposed

David Garner - Wow, thanks for taking the time to fully explain your opinion. I agree with you 110% I am hesitant to call my pastor because I am not very good in speaking. I am much more focused, clear, and concise when I write. Thanks for sharing your experience and your blog (which I plan on reading for some insight). I do not want my letter to come off as argumentative or that I'm judging the church I am leaving. Most certainly there are good things there and I will point those out in my letter. Hopefully, and maybe I did not do a good enough job of this, I'm trying to put explain my leaving in a way that focuses on my experience with the Protestant faith as a whole, and not specifically with my pastor's church. Your absolutely right, I do not want to polarize the situation to extremes; therefore, I will consider those topics in the letter to see how to re-write them or if they are even needed at all.

Saint Iaint - True, but I think that would be a little too harsh - see what I had to say to NicholasMyra
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 10:54:15 AM »

David Garner - Wow, thanks for taking the time to fully explain your opinion. I agree with you 110% I am hesitant to call my pastor because I am not very good in speaking. I am much more focused, clear, and concise when I write. Thanks for sharing your experience and your blog (which I plan on reading for some insight). I do not want my letter to come off as argumentative or that I'm judging the church I am leaving. Most certainly there are good things there and I will point those out in my letter. Hopefully, and maybe I did not do a good enough job of this, I'm trying to put explain my leaving in a way that focuses on my experience with the Protestant faith as a whole, and not specifically with my pastor's church. Your absolutely right, I do not want to polarize the situation to extremes; therefore, I will consider those topics in the letter to see how to re-write them or if they are even needed at all.

I don't think a call is absolutely necessary.  I called our Pastor because he has been good to my family and I, and he baptized our youngest daughter, and I thought he deserved to hear our decision personally.  I also didn't want him to think we were mad at him or anyone else.  But I too prefer writing where I can -- I'm just better at collecting my thoughts in writing than I am in speaking.

Don't feel as if you have to convince your Pastor -- he won't agree with you -- or that you have to defend your decision.  I promise you this, you will learn more about the Faith by living in it and observing than you ever will by discussing it with those who disagree with you.  And once you learn it, you are better equipped to discuss it. 

As to that, I note that you didn't mention whether you were attending an Orthodox parish. If not, I would encourage you to do so.  The Faith lived is quite different from the Faith read (and in its most fundamental form, the Faith is lived, not merely believed).  For us, it was different in a very good way, but you need to see the difference.  It's one thing to read about why Orthodox say, for example, "most Holy Theotokos, save us."  It is quite another to stand in front of her icon and actually PRAY it.  Also, it is good to watch how the seasons of the Church Year proceed, and learn by participating how the daily, weekly and yearly cycles work.  You don't have to join a particular parish, but I think it would be good to begin attending, establish a prayer rule and a fasting rule, and begin living the Faith.  I would start simple -- get a prayer book and begin attending.  Speak to the priest and, if you are not ready to jump in with both feet, be honest about that and ask for his guidance in how to proceed without yet becoming a catechumen. 

And pray.  I know this is redundant, but it is most important.
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2011, 11:07:27 AM »

FWIW, I did the same thing when I left my childhood Lutheran Church almost 20 years ago.  Some naive part of me thought that by stating my reasons for leaving (fullness of faith, etc..) I was doing a small part for Orthodox evangelization and wake 'em up to the truth (convert zeal at its finest, but I didn't see a mass exodus as a result of my finely crafted words). 

Another part of me realized it wouldn't be fair to just skip out without an explanation (I'd just renewed my membership in the church the Sunday before, stood up in front of the congregation and my mother and said I wanted to be a full member again, then promptly visited an Orthodox Church the next Sunday and never went back.  Guess I should have gotten my cold feet beforehand.).

A third reason for sending a letter is to have something official on file in your old denomination.  In some groups this is more important than others and having your name officially withdrawn is required.

The bottom line is, if you feel sending a letter will clear the path, by all means do so.  Just make it heartfelt but not triumphant.  (And I agree, "Exposing the Christian Fantasy" sounds a little over the top!)
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 02:36:13 PM »

In reviewing all of the comments and suggestions I've received, it seems as if there is a common opinion: to speak the truth, but in a way that does not bring about contention. I want to make sure that my letter does not come across pious, judgmental, etc. that could stir contention; therefore, if anyone noticed sections of that in my letter please point them out to me so that they can be corrected. Again, the letter can be viewed here: www.thejournalofareformingprotestant.com

Garner - First off, enjoyed your blog post. I noted how you politely expressed your feelings about where the lutheran church was going and your convictions to find the ancient faith. I too will try my best to incorporate that into my letter so as not to seem pious and/or triumphant (as TinaG pointed out). I have been attending an Orthodox Church for approximately a year this Easter. I am not a catechumen, but working my way there. The priest, Father Soroka, has been a very kind and influential. He has met with me, responded to my emails, and even provided materials for me to read to help me on my journey in rediscovering the Christian faith. Even the attendees at the church have been very kind to me and my wife. It really has been a pleasant experience.

Though I have not been attending my ND church for at least one year, I have kept in contact with the pastor's teachings comparing the ND version of Christianity with Orthodoxy because I'll openly admit - its one thing to read the faith, one thing to attend the Church as a viewer/participate (to a degree), one thing to write about the faith, but totally different to make that leap to become a part of the Church. I realize how big of a decision that is so I am in the process of working out my faith and I think a part of that working out comes about by writing my thoughts out and really thinking everything through. I usually joke with Fr Soroka that if there is a Orthodoxy purgatory I'm in it right now Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2011, 03:43:53 PM »

Dear Reforming:

Out of the kindness of your heart, and from a desire to act like Christ in all things--you know, be Orthodox--wouldn't it be better to just ask him to take you off the roster and leave it at that? All he needs to know is that you are going to be attending another church. The letter, I assume, is to get things off your own chest. Why run the risk of injuring someone who has been kind to you in the past?
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« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2011, 05:28:51 PM »

Though I have not been attending my ND church for at least one year...

All the more reason to send a nice simple letter bidding him farewell and thanking him for his kindness. If you wish, you could include a p.s. that you would be happy to share what you have discovered, if he's interested. But I agree with everyone else who has suggested ix-nay on the letter and let it go.
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« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2011, 02:09:42 AM »

A polite and simple goodbye letter would be better. 

Maybe mention the name of your new church and he might then ask you about the new church or quietly look it up on his own.
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« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2011, 02:26:49 AM »

If you've been gone for that long, don't send this letter. It's going to make Orthodoxy look bad. I was under the impression that you were still in contact with this person and perhaps could discuss it as friends, with the letter being some kind of springboard. Don't be ungrateful for all they have done for you.
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« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2011, 03:29:02 AM »

About 6 years ago I asked a church I was attending to remove my name from the roster. When I returned two years later to visit, everyone was shocked. Some heard that I had been outed as a homosexual (I was not, nor am I a homosexual), others said I became an atheist (certainly not an atheist), and one thought that I was exploring Islam as a way of conversion (not true either).

Perhaps I should have told them I was just moving to a different town.

But that's how it goes in many Protestant churches; if you don't provide an explanation, others will provide one for you. So it's probably prudent for him to write this note, that way if he's attacked or gossiped about, it's at least for something that's true.
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« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2011, 05:32:34 AM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.

I corrected him about this on another thread and mentioned the Non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians surviving until today. It takes time to understand the nuances of such a complicated topic.

I wouldn't say anything if there was awareness of these 3 major traditions of Eastern Christianity and it was judged that EOy was the legitimate one. But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.

And yet those have studied the divisions aren't following behind you. Stop with the smugness.

I don't know what you're talking about.
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« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2011, 05:35:39 AM »

from what I gathered it appears that they have a different view of Christ than that of the universal Church

How have you determined what "the universal church" is?
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« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2011, 07:56:12 AM »

from what I gathered it appears that they have a different view of Christ than that of the universal Church

How have you determined what "the universal church" is?

Reforming Protestant is only just getting his toes wet when it comes to Orthodoxy, so give him a break. As someone supposedly more learned in the faith, have you determined what "the universal church" is? And have you joined it? If not, then lay off with your smug pontificating.  Angry
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« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2011, 09:20:29 AM »

Thanks for all your input, I plan on consulting my priest about the situation, and am leaning towards a more simple and concise letter. I don't want to make Orthodoxy look bad, and I don't want to offend my pastor who is very close with my family. I'll mention that I am interested in Orthodoxy, maybe point him to a web site, and leave it at that.

Its true I am still getting my toes wet with Orthodoxy so that's why I joined the forum - for correction and a better understanding of the faith. So if I've said something that isn't necessarily correct like "universal church" please understand my situation and correct me. If you can, please provide a bit more explanation why I messed up, or point me in a direction so that I can research it for myself.

I'm looking for guidance...
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« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2011, 11:08:34 AM »

When I withdrew from my former Evangelical Protestant church, I sent a note to the pastor indicating that I had joined the Orthodox Church. However, that pastor did not follow through and complete the process at his end. His successor - whom I have known for many years - contacted me a few years later while he was tidying up membership records. Once again, I wrote that I had been received into the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church on (date), and that I did understand that such action constituted my voluntary withdrawal from the (denomination) church. We remain on good and friendly terms.

To Reforming Protestant: I agree with others that a simple letter requesting that your name be formally removed from membership is the better way to go. Since you and that pastor have had minimal contact, it's hard to imagine that he is particularly interested, and indeed may have written you off at least informally already. In your letter, though, you may certainly include a note that your spiritual journey has been chronicled at [your website], which BTW is very thorough and well-written.
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« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2011, 01:17:58 PM »

And don't stress yourself about it - most of us have had this experience - when we "discover" the ancient Church and it's like "does anybody else know about this??!!" or "why didn't they tell me??!!" I felt like rushing out into the street and grabbing strangers to tell them, and I blush to relate that I remember trying to work it into every conversation.
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« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2011, 02:26:55 PM »

And don't stress yourself about it - most of us have had this experience - when we "discover" the ancient Church and it's like "does anybody else know about this??!!" or "why didn't they tell me??!!" I felt like rushing out into the street and grabbing strangers to tell them, and I blush to relate that I remember trying to work it into every conversation.

You start figuring out eventually that people aren't shouting it from the rooftops because nobody cares.
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« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2011, 03:15:48 PM »

And don't stress yourself about it - most of us have had this experience - when we "discover" the ancient Church and it's like "does anybody else know about this??!!" or "why didn't they tell me??!!" I felt like rushing out into the street and grabbing strangers to tell them, and I blush to relate that I remember trying to work it into every conversation.

You start figuring out eventually that people aren't shouting it from the rooftops because nobody cares.

Ain't it the truth...
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« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2011, 04:41:16 PM »

from what I gathered it appears that they have a different view of Christ than that of the universal Church

How have you determined what "the universal church" is?

Reforming Protestant is only just getting his toes wet when it comes to Orthodoxy, so give him a break. As someone supposedly more learned in the faith, have you determined what "the universal church" is? And have you joined it? If not, then lay off with your smug pontificating.  Angry

Again, I don't know what you're talking about. I just asked a question.
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« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2011, 08:24:58 PM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.

I corrected him about this on another thread and mentioned the Non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians surviving until today. It takes time to understand the nuances of such a complicated topic.

I wouldn't say anything if there was awareness of these 3 major traditions of Eastern Christianity and it was judged that EOy was the legitimate one. But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.

And yet those have studied the divisions aren't following behind you. Stop with the smugness.

I don't know what you're talking about.
Uh huh. There have been people on this board for example who have studied the divisions sufficiently and yet haven't joined the OO church or a Nestorian one. You are implying that people who are EO haven't studied them enough and that's why they are still EO and have "Chalcedonian blinders".
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« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2011, 09:34:41 PM »

"As you can see, from the Day of Pentecost (roughly 33 A.D.) to 1054 A.D. there was one Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic Church. There were no denominations of Christianity, you were either Christian or you weren’t."

This is completely false. Unfortunately you are falling into the all too common trap of conducting your search through a purely Chalcedonian lense and imagining that the EO are all there is to Eastern Christianity.

I corrected him about this on another thread and mentioned the Non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians surviving until today. It takes time to understand the nuances of such a complicated topic.

I wouldn't say anything if there was awareness of these 3 major traditions of Eastern Christianity and it was judged that EOy was the legitimate one. But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.

And yet those have studied the divisions aren't following behind you. Stop with the smugness.

I don't know what you're talking about.
Uh huh. There have been people on this board for example who have studied the divisions sufficiently and yet haven't joined the OO church or a Nestorian one. You are implying that people who are EO haven't studied them enough and that's why they are still EO and have "Chalcedonian blinders".

Actually, no, I suggested nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, I affirmed quite the contrary.
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« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2011, 09:47:03 PM »

Quote
But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.

O rly?
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« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2011, 10:57:42 PM »

Quote
But I am very sensitive to the Chalcedonian blinders phenomenon, as I actually originally suffered from it and joined your church only to leave it a year later because I hadn't studied the Eastern Christian divisions sufficiently beforehand.

O rly?

There is nothing in any of my posts that indicates that I was applying the phrase "Chalcedonian blinders" as a syndrome that all EO suffer.
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« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2011, 11:29:56 PM »

You are missing the point. You said that you joined the EO church, but by studying further into the divisions of the EO church you decided to leave it. What I was saying originally is that there have been people who have also studied the divisions themselves and accept Chalcedon. Do those people have those blinders on too? Are you going to argue that you have studied more than those that have?
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« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2011, 11:58:03 PM »

What should I do if I study the conflicts and come out on the Arian side?
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« Reply #39 on: March 03, 2011, 12:37:58 AM »

You are missing the point. You said that you joined the EO church, but by studying further into the divisions of the EO church you decided to leave it. What I was saying originally is that there have been people who have also studied the divisions themselves and accept Chalcedon. Do those people have those blinders on too? Are you going to argue that you have studied more than those that have?

I've already answered your question:

I wouldn't say anything if there was awareness of these 3 major traditions of Eastern Christianity and it was judged that EOy was the legitimate one.

It is you who are missing.
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« Reply #40 on: March 03, 2011, 12:39:24 AM »

What should I do if I study the conflicts and come out on the Arian side?

Seeing as how the Arian church died off, there would be something more clearly wrong with that choice than the EOC, RCC, OOC, or ACE.

Anyway, what's the relevance of this question?
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« Reply #41 on: March 03, 2011, 07:37:58 PM »

No you really didn't.
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« Reply #42 on: March 03, 2011, 08:19:59 PM »

Attempting to get this thread back on track...

tuesdayschild - I agree that I could easily send a correspondence that just states that I am resigning from the church. But, I feel, and I could be wrong, that I would be missing an opportunity to share what I have learned.

One of the best pieces of advice I got as an inquirer/catechumen was "You need to be doing more learning and less teaching." I agree with those who say keep it short and simple if you send anything at all.
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« Reply #43 on: March 04, 2011, 11:01:16 AM »

One of the best pieces of advice I got as an inquirer/catechumen was "You need to be doing more learning and less teaching." I agree with those who say keep it short and simple if you send anything at all.

Absolutely. I look back and am totally embarrassed to think that I had the temerity and the arrogance to lecture anybody, or set them straight. The only excuse I have is that it was all so new and exciting to learn stuff that I had never heard of - while the reality is that I knew nothing, and the longer I'm Orthodox the more I realize how little I know now. There's always more!
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« Reply #44 on: March 04, 2011, 02:46:14 PM »

katherineofdixie - I understand your perspective to a degree, but when should something be said?
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« Reply #45 on: March 04, 2011, 03:29:22 PM »

You could just tell them that God is calling you to go somewhere and assure tham that you're not losing your faith.

Not nearly as fun.
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« Reply #46 on: March 05, 2011, 12:35:57 PM »

when should something be said?

The longer a letter is, the less likely it is to be read with close attention and therefore understanding. Also, there is a saying that "paper never smiles". You know what you mean, and the spirit in which you mean it; your reader may not grasp your intention in either. It is better and more courteous to deal with breakings of fellowship face to face wherever possible, though I know it can be hard. Not knowing your pastor, I cannot say how he would react to a face to face conversation, but your responsibility is to be the best Christian you can, regardless of his reaction. You should (in my view) speak with him personally, not by phone or in writing. There is probably little point in trying to persuade him of your new convictions, but you should make every effort to make it clear that your reasons for leaving are not personal to do with him, but are a matter of religious conscience. I dare say others have said the same in the many lines of the thread; but if I were still pastor of a Baptist church, I would prefer to be told in a courteous, friendly and personal manner why someone left, rather than being left to guess, and probably to guess wrongly.

Like yourgoodself, I find it easier to express myself in writing, giving myself time to choose and change my wording, but I have often found to my dismay over the years that this approach leads to people completely misunderstanding the meaning or the spirit of my words. I am surprised at the meanings they read into what I have written, but that is the sad fact.


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« Reply #47 on: March 05, 2011, 12:59:22 PM »

if I were still pastor of a Baptist church, I would prefer to be told in a courteous, friendly and personal manner why someone left, rather than being left to guess, and probably to guess wrongly.

When I left my Protestant church for the Orthodox Church, I informed the pastor face-to-face and thanked him for loaning me his copy of The Orthodox Church by Met. Kallistos/Timothy Ware. We parted on good terms. One of the church members tried to engage me in a doctrinal debate, but I knew that I didn't have a firm enough grasp of the answers to satisfy him. So I simply said, "I don't know, but I know that converting is the right thing for me to do."

To the OP: If you have your heart set on explaining your decision, then recommend to your pastor one of the many introductions to Orthodoxy that have been written by converts who have more years of experience as Orthodox than you have, such as The Orthodox Church or Becoming Orthodox, by Fr. Peter E. Gillquist. Buy a copy, and make it a parting gift. Anything more, IMO, will invite a contentious departure.
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« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2011, 05:18:03 PM »

When I left my Protestant church

This sounds very wise, gracious and sensible advice. People will probably always convert in one direction or the other, but let it be done courteously, letting 'all our speech be seasoned with salt'.
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« Reply #49 on: March 08, 2011, 11:47:12 AM »

katherineofdixie - I understand your perspective to a degree, but when should something be said?


It depends on the circumstances. If a friend asks a question, then answer with brevity, gentleness and humility - "this is what I've learned..." and "I could lend you a couple of books if you're interested or send you some links to information I found."
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« Reply #50 on: March 08, 2011, 01:20:23 PM »

when should something be said?

The longer a letter is, the less likely it is to be read with close attention and therefore understanding. Also, there is a saying that "paper never smiles". You know what you mean, and the spirit in which you mean it; your reader may not grasp your intention in either. It is better and more courteous to deal with breakings of fellowship face to face wherever possible, though I know it can be hard. Not knowing your pastor, I cannot say how he would react to a face to face conversation, but your responsibility is to be the best Christian you can, regardless of his reaction. You should (in my view) speak with him personally, not by phone or in writing. There is probably little point in trying to persuade him of your new convictions, but you should make every effort to make it clear that your reasons for leaving are not personal to do with him, but are a matter of religious conscience. I dare say others have said the same in the many lines of the thread; but if I were still pastor of a Baptist church, I would prefer to be told in a courteous, friendly and personal manner why someone left, rather than being left to guess, and probably to guess wrongly.

Like yourgoodself, I find it easier to express myself in writing, giving myself time to choose and change my wording, but I have often found to my dismay over the years that this approach leads to people completely misunderstanding the meaning or the spirit of my words. I am surprised at the meanings they read into what I have written, but that is the sad fact.




Linguistically, when we speak, 80 percent of our message consists of non-verbal body motions, gestures, and sighs.
The spoken words  only convey about 20 percent of our message.
We cannot really convey the truth without our eyes, facial motions, head movements and nods, and arm and body gestures.
If the preacher does not preach .... then how are we to believe.

And then we must consider the ambiguities in our written and/or spoken words.
Our eyes and facial expressions can help correct the natural ambiguities that are present.
Our head motions can also clarify what we are trying to say.

So, yes, a face-to-face meeting might be best, but it also opens up the possibility of a heated argument by one or both sides to challenge what is said. If the convert to another church is not strong, he/she might revert under the influence of a much more educated pastor.
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« Reply #51 on: March 09, 2011, 12:03:51 PM »

I'll openly admit that I am a novice to the Orthodox faith, and that is why I shared my letter with you - Orthodox believers - for comments. After re-reading the letter several times and considering the comments I received I can now see where it comes across too preachy in certain areas. The purpose of the letter is not to be preachy but to point out a difference. I am in the process of re-structuring the letter so that it is not too preachy and the message of my letter is not lost.

Even though I am a novice to the faith, I have been able  to recognize the blatant difference between Orthodoxy and modern Protestant Christianity. However, it wasn't until I was challenged (and not in a pious way) through discussions with an Orthodox friend that I began to think, "maybe there is something legitimate about Orthodoxy." Initially, my reaction to my friend was "Your crazy!" and I blew him off being offended. But, over time, things that he said to me would nag at my mind/my faith making take a closer look at why I was believing the Protestant view of faith.

Without going in detail, the underline theme of Protestantism is that the Church failed somewhere alone the line. By believing that, it undermines the entire truth of Christianity (as I was trying to point out in my letter).  In contrast, Orthodoxy does not share that opinion by holding to doctrines such Sola Scriptura.

I don't want the letter to come across "this is what I'M saying is right, this is what I'M saying is wrong", I want the letter to come across as, "After taking a look at Protestantism in contrast to the Early Church it seems that there are striking differences, why?"

Katherineofdixie as well as everyone else gave me some good advice about referring my pastor to a book I read. I think I will do that and not really get into mentioning Orthodoxy by name in my letter.
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« Reply #52 on: March 09, 2011, 12:17:33 PM »

Katherineofdixie as well as everyone else gave me some good advice about referring my pastor to a book I read. I think I will do that and not really get into mentioning Orthodoxy by name in my letter.

I've found "Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life" by Father Coniaris to be a quite good exposition of the Orthodox Faith that is accessible on a laity level.
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