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Author Topic: Which churches on the same side of the coin?  (Read 14928 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rho
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« on: May 11, 2004, 07:58:35 AM »

Greetings from a first-time poster.  I have been interested in Eastern Orthodoxy for just over 2 years now since my friend converted.  Since then we have had many interesting interactions on the subject.

My question for discussion is on an assertion that I read in Bishop Kallistos Ware's _The Orthodox Church._  It is as follows:  The Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches are two sides of the same coin and the Eastern Orthodox Church is categorically different.  And he of course implies that the two Western churches are thus unified in corruption.  I would like to discuss that contention because I, as an Evangelical Protestant, would view it differently.  It therefore seems to me that this assertion is entirely dependent on one's presuppositions and cannot be supported on an objective basis.  

For example, between Prot and RCC, we have the following similarities that are not to be found in EOC:
1. Filioque
2. The oft-cited "legal" viewpoint versus the "mystical" viewpoint
3. Descendancy of thought (in some cases) from Augustine and Aquinas
4. Tendency to prefer the Masoretic OT text over the LXX
5. Latin tendency to "overthink," analyse, and commit to verbal description more rather than accept many things as a mystery

Examples of similarities between RCC and EOC not to be found in Evangelical Protestantism:
1. Erecting a separate class of "canonised" (for lack of a better word) saints
2. Venerating and praying to said saints
3. Praying for the dead
4. Rejecting the position of Sola Scriptura
5. Justification not by faith alone
6. The claim that infallible interpreting authority resides within the Church, and by extension...
7. ...the excoriation of "personal, private" interpretation of the Scriptures
8. The emphasis on Mary
9. Use of icons in worship

I am certain that I am leaving out some things on each list, so feel free to add to either one.  (And of course, it's just like a partisan to have more points on his own side).  

My thesis statement is that Ware's assertion cannot be supported and that EOC and RCC show so many similarities that Prot-ism does not share as to make the assertion not worth making.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2004, 08:37:18 AM by Rho » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2004, 10:25:08 AM »

This is a tinderbox waiting to explode, and so not wanting to pour too much petrol on the firewood I will briefly state my view on this:

To a Western Christian, Orthodoxy and Catholicism look more similar to each other than either is to Protestantism.  Catholics contend that this is simply due to the relatively recent Catholic acknowledgement that, from Catholicism's perspective, Orthodoxy has "valid orders" and therfore has "valid sacraments" and therefore is pretty close to the Catholic Church, whereas Protestantism has neither.  It's only relatively recently -- last 40 years or so -- that this has been the publicly stated view of Catholicism, and while it is a view that has some inherent contradictions in it, nevertheless it is a view that seems to flow from some threads of Catholic ecclesiology.

My own view is that the feeling of "closeness", from the Catholic perspective, has been there for much longer than the last 40 years when it has been publically affirmed.  It has deeper roots, and those roots have to do with the self-identifications of Roman Catholics and Protestants.  To a large degree, RCs and Protestants define each other in contradistinction from the other.  That is, the religious traumas of Western history for the last several hundred years have led to a tendency for each of Catholicism and Protestantism to view the other as "OTHER", as the "referent other", the "defining other".  The differences that exist between Protestatism and Catholicism are, for many of both, critical, identifying differences, the "differences that matter".   Catholics may quibble that this is not the case for them, but I think that this "Catholic v. Protestant" distinction still is a part of the worldview of many Catholics, religious or not (I remember the humorous comparison made by Umberto Eco, not a practicing Catholic but a cultural one, between PCs and Macintoshes, stating that the PC was the "protestant computer" while the Macintosh was the "Catholic computer").  Certainly for Protestants, this is the case, because the whole idea is that they are "protesting" "against" something, the entire movement from the beginning defined itself as something over and against what was Catholicism.

This has an impact when both look at Orthodoxy.  From the Catholic perspective, Orthodoxy doesn't have the "differences that matter" that Protestantism does, while from the Protestant perspective, Orthodoxy appears to have the same (or at least similar, sans the Pope) "differences that matter" between Protestantism and Catholicism ... so each tend to view Orthodoxy as akin, in some or many respects, to Catholicism, because the differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, in the eyes of many/most Catholics and Protestants, are simply not the "differences that matter".

Orthodox have a different perspective, and a different history.  Our referent other is the "Western Church".  We had no protestant reformation, we had the split with the West, that is the religious trauma we have experienced.  And so, for us, the "referent other" is the Western Church ... both Catholicism, which is the Church that divided from us in the Middle Ages, *and* Protestantism, which is, from our perspective, its offshoot.  This is not to underestimate the differences between Catholics and Protestants, we acknowledge those.  We also acknowledge that those differences are, in many cases, things that present difficulties when we look at Protestantism, difficulties similar to those expressed by many Catholics looking at Protestantism.  But we nevertheless view Protestantism as the offshoot of the Western church, in terms of the primacy of Augustinian theology, the reaction against the excesses of papal power, the obsession with issues of soteriological mechanics and the like ... we see similarities as well as differences.  My own personal perspective is that Protestantism is a worse form of Catholicism, significantly worse because it has not only inherited some errors of Catholicism due to having originated there, but has compounded these with numerous ill-formed novelties of its own, resulting in the worst-case-scenario ... but that is my own personal perspective, it is not the "Orthodox perspective" per se.

The other point I would like to make before shutting up so that I can be properly flamed is that I can only say that Orthodoxy *looks* more similar to Catholicism from the outside looking in, than it feels from the inside.  I can say that as someone who grew up Catholic with Orthodox living as neighbors on both sides ... we thought they were pretty much like Catholics except they werent "under the Pope", to use the common Catholic expression.  It was a "cultural thing", but otherwise they were "just like us" because they had priests and sacraments and so forth.  Having been Orthodox for a while, I can say that while we have many of the same external "trappings" as the Catholics do, the way that we understand and experience them is startlingly different.  We're more different than we seem at first glance.  And I understand better why the Greek neighbors nextdoor who sent their daughter to the same Catholic grammar school that I went to insisted that she be excused from all religious instruction there ... they saw us as less similar to them than we did, and I never really understood that at the time, but I understand it now.

Brendan
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Rho
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2004, 10:54:40 AM »

>>worst-case-scenario ... but that is my own personal perspective, it is not the "Orthodox perspective" per se.

  Wink  I have been under the impression that that IS in fact the Orthodox perspective.

It is interesting how this message serves to further my original thesis in that we see little doctrine presented but rather a "perspectivist" reaction.  

I would be glad to see other reactions in terms of response to the dual lists that I have noted.  "Feeling more Eastern" versus "feeling Western" is interesting, true, but I don't know if that's applicable.  

At any rate, it also seems like the differences between Prot-ism and RCC are downplayed in your post.
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2004, 10:58:50 AM »

Rho,
While I try to formulate a point by point response as you request (time is tight today), please avail yourself of all of these boards discussions where most of this has been covered before, and before, and before...
(The Search feature is very handy and does work well).

Demetri
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2004, 11:26:57 AM »


Quote
The Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches are two sides of the same coin and the Eastern Orthodox Church is categorically different.  And he of course implies that the two Western churches are thus unified in corruption.
 

I have also read this in some of Clark Carlton's books. However, I don't know if the idea is that the RCC and the Protestant Churches are united in corruption, rather in a comon history and culture.

However, the majority of Catholic priests and bishops think the other way. That Orthodoxy and Catholicism are united in the 7 Ecumenical Councils, valid Sacraments, Apostolic sucession, and the idea that there is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I have also come across some Orthodox priests who feel Catholicism and Orthodoxy are much closer than Catholicism and Protestantism, or Orthodoxy and Protestantism.


Quote
1. Filioque

No all Protestants use the Filioque, I have been to many Episcopal and Anglo-Catholic parishes that recite the Creed without the Filioque.

Quote
5. Latin tendency to "overthink," analyse, and commit to verbal description more rather than accept many things as a mystery

True, however many Protestants try to distance themselves from Latin legalism as much as possible.

Quote
Examples of similarities between RCC and EOC not to be found in Evangelical Protestantism:
1. Erecting a separate class of "canonised" (for lack of a better word) saints
2. Venerating and praying to said saints
3. Praying for the dead
4. Rejecting the position of Sola Scriptura
5. Justification not by faith alone
6. The claim that infallible interpreting authority resides within the Church, and by extension...
7. ...the excoriation of "personal, private" interpretation of the Scriptures
8. The emphasis on Mary
9. Use of icons in worship

Do not forget Apostolic sucession.

Quote
My thesis statement is that Ware's assertion cannot be supported and that EOC and RCC show so many similarities that Prot-ism does not share as to make the assertion not worth making.  


I would agree, however Bishop Ware is much more learned in such areas. He has a great extent of knowledge on such issues, much more than I do!
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2004, 11:45:56 AM »

Quote
Catholics contend that this is simply due to the relatively recent Catholic acknowledgement that, from Catholicism's perspective, Orthodoxy has "valid orders" and therfore has "valid sacraments" and therefore is pretty close to the Catholic Church, whereas Protestantism has neither.  It's only relatively recently -- last 40 years or so -- that this has been the publicly stated view of Catholicism, and while it is a view that has some inherent contradictions in it, nevertheless it is a view that seems to flow from some threads of Catholic ecclesiology.

I'm going to disagree with you here.

I do not think the idea of the Orthodox Church having valid orders and valid sacraments in a new development within Catholicism. I wasn't a live 40 years ago, but I do have some old Catholic enclyclopedias and articles from the pre-Vat II period. All state that the Orthodox Churches have valid orders and sacraments, this is why Orthodox Christians were never conditionaly baptized when they entered the Catholic Church, and why Orthodox priests who converted to Catholicism simply confessed, and made a profession of faith, and they were then Catholic priests, of whatever rank they were in the Orthodox Church. Even the modern day Catholic traditionalists -  SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, etc, do not deny that the Orthodx Church has valid orders and valid Sacraments. In fact when an Ukrainian Orthodox bishop entered the Sedevacantist CMRI, he just confessed and made a profession of faith, and was then a Catholic bishop. This is significant, because CMRI  follows pre-Vat II Catholic teaching and practice in the strictest and purest form, they make no exceptions.

I do agree that the Catholic Church has warmed up quite a bit with the Orthodox Church over the past 40 years, but I don't think the idea of the Orthodox Church having valid orders and sacraments is a recent developement in Catholicism. This seems to have been the teaching of the Catholic Church for some time, throughout the centuries. I have yet to come across a Catholic book, atricle, Papal Bull or enclyclical, pre-Vat II or post-Vat II that states the Orthodox Christians do not have valid orders and sacraments.

Please, if I am wrong, provide me with some pre- Vat II material or Papal bull or encyclical that states the Orthodox do not have valid orders and/or sacraments.
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2004, 12:01:41 PM »

"It is interesting how this message serves to further my original thesis in that we see little doctrine presented but rather a "perspectivist" reaction."

I honestly do think that these differences in perspective are what underlie how the churches view each other today, even before you get to the level of theological analysis.

""Feeling more Eastern" versus "feeling Western" is interesting, true, but I don't know if that's applicable."

That's not what I said.  What I said was there is a significant difference in how the churches view themselves and define themselves.  Surely as an evangelical *protestant* you can understand that your own self-labelling is itself a statement of where your church stands vis-a-vis Catholicism, because it implies of necessity that there is something against which you are Protesting to begin with.   Wink

"At any rate, it also seems like the differences between Prot-ism and RCC are downplayed in your post."

No they are real, and they are also differences between Orthodoxy and Protestantism, as I said.  However, there are other things that Protestantism and Catholicism have in common that we share with neither.  This gets back to the "differences that matter".

"For example, between Prot and RCC, we have the following similarities that are not to be found in EOC:
1. Filioque
2. The oft-cited "legal" viewpoint versus the "mystical" viewpoint
3. Descendancy of thought (in some cases) from Augustine and Aquinas
4. Tendency to prefer the Masoretic OT text over the LXX
5. Latin tendency to "overthink," analyse, and commit to verbal description more rather than accept many things as a mystery"

To these I would add a common western worldview and heritage, a common enthusiasm for humanism, a common idea of mission, a common sense of interaction between the church and society, a common emphasis on preaching, and an increasingly common worship style and approach following the post-Vatican-II reforms in Catholicism.  Much of this is due to the reality that for centuries Protestantism set the terms of the debate in Western Christianity, and Catholicism reacted to that and adjusted where it thought necessary.  But the reality is that you both have a lot more in common with each other than either of you is comfortable to admit  Wink.;

"1. Erecting a separate class of "canonised" (for lack of a better word) saints"

Anglicans have saints too, by the way.  Yes, we share this in common with Catholics as a practice.  Shiite Muslims also have saints, as do a number of other religions, in their own way.
 
"2. Venerating and praying to said saints"

Yes we share this in common.

"3. Praying for the dead"

Yes, but we also share this with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc.  

"4. Rejecting the position of Sola Scriptura"

Not our fight.  It never came up in the East.  We disagree with it as well, but unlike Catholicism, which views scripture and tradition as distinct but equal, we view it all as Holy Tradition, so the juxtaposition of "scripture" and "tradition" is impossible in Orthodoxy.  That kind of thinking which led to sola scriptura would have been impossible in Orthodoxy, and this is another indication of how Protestantism is an outgrowth of Catholicism.   Smiley

"5. Justification not by faith alone"

Not our fight.  We don't share this fascination with soteriology that Western Christians do.  In Orthodoxy, we believe in "synergeia", and noone has ever suggested here that it was "one" or the "other", or even juxtaposed them against each other like that.  This kind of juxtaposition of "faith" over against "works" is another reflection of the Thomistic tradition of analysis that is the common heritage of Protestants and Catholics, but has nothing to do with Eastern Orthodoxy.  And so, again, this reflects the reality that Protestantism is an ofshoot of Catholicism.   Smiley

"6. The claim that infallible interpreting authority resides within the Church, and by extension..."

We would stop the sentence after "Church".  This is one of the more significant and far-reaching differences between Catholicism/Protestantism, on the one hand, and Orthodoxy on the other.  Catholicism based the "extension" of that principle on one see's interpretation of a critical biblical passage, over and against the actual practice of how the church functioned for centuries, statements in ecumenical councils and the like.  It was, in a sense, the first instance, the seed, of "sola scriptura", because the Roman See's claim to primacy of jurisdiction and, later, infallibility, is based on the Roman See's interpretation of the Bible, even if that disagrees with the interpretation given by the entirety of the Church.  So in a sense that "addition" by Catholicism was already a rejection of the idea that the infallibility rests with the entirety of the Church and that one see alone cannot define its powers based solely on its own biblical interpretations.  In doing so, the seed was planted, in a way, for sola scriptura to emerge, which leads to the next point ...

"7. ...the excoriation of "personal, private" interpretation of the Scriptures"

Yes, we reject this as Catholicism does.  But we see the development of sola scriptura as having come from a certain perspective and spirit already present before that in Catholicism.  In a sense, the Pope was the first sola scriptura protestant, believing that his own interpretation of certain biblical passages was definitive, binding and authoritative, regardless of what the rest of the church said and regardless of the practices and traditions of the church in this respect.  The devlopment of sola scriptura simply relocates this biblical primacy from the Pope (acting through the remainder of the Church of course) to the individual believer ... each believer becomes his or her own Pope.  And this development was made possible by a certain approach to the scriptures in Catholicism from the top, and the juxtaposition of scripture and tradition that is not known in Orthodoxy.  So here again, we see you both as being closer in roots than you like to admit, and one as being the offshoot of things present in the other.   Smiley

"8. The emphasis on Mary"

Yes this is true, it predates our separation from Catholicism, and the Catholics have never eliminated it, although the Catholic Church has certainly, if somewhat unwittingly, de-emphasized Marian devotion dramatically in the last 40 or so years, as compared with what you still see in Orthodoxy.  Some in Catholicism see this as a "protestant" influence.

"9. Use of icons in worship"

Actually this is more of a difference than a similarity.  Catholics do not reject religious paintings or statues, but they do not carry the same significance in Catholic piety or liturgical practice than they do in Orthodoxy.  Catholics acccept them, even encourage them, but they are not "necessary".  Icons are "necessary" in Orthodoxy.  But I will grant that this is a relatively minor difference between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

 
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2004, 12:17:18 PM »

Quote
Yes this is true, it predates our separation from Catholicism, and the Catholics have never eliminated it, although the Catholic Church has certainly, if somewhat unwittingly, de-emphasized Marian devotion dramatically in the last 40 or so years, as compared with what you still see in Orthodoxy.  Some in Catholicism see this as a "protestant" influence.

I disagree. I do not think Mary has been "dramtically" de-emphasized in the Catholic Church. If anything, in many places we have seen a renewal of Marian devotion, esp with the Papacy of John Paul II, who has a frevent and devout devotion to the Blessed Virgin. I do agree that since Vatican II, Marian devotion has seemed to be on the decline, but more now than ever am I seeing RC churches with the whole congregation praying the rosary, before and after Mass. Mary is also a focus of many of John Paul II's writings. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think we are seeing Marian devotion in the RCC in just a different way, I guess the Pope would say "In the light of Vatican II", but if anything I don't think we see Mary in a de-emphasized role in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church.


Quote
Actually this is more of a difference than a similarity.  Catholics do not reject religious paintings or statues, but they do not carry the same significance in Catholic piety or liturgical practice than they do in Orthodoxy.  Catholics acccept them, even encourage them, but they are not "necessary".  Icons are "necessary" in Orthodoxy.  But I will grant that this is a relatively minor difference between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

Catholics, clergy and laymen alike, of the Eastern rites would certainly disagree with you, at least these days, that is. I agree that Icons, and religious art, do not have the same emphasis in the Roman Catholic Church as it does in the Eastern Orthodox Church. But I know many Eastern rite Catholics who believe Icons are truly necesary.
 

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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2004, 12:28:48 PM »

"I disagree. I do not think Mary has been "dramtically" de-emphasized in the Catholic Church."

Well I beg to differ with you.  I do agree that there has been an attempt in some circles within the Catholic Church to "rollback" some of the changes that were made following Vatican II, but I do think that one of them was a change in Marian devotion among the *average* Catholic.  It's good to see that this is being reversed in some places Smiley  

"but more now than ever am I seeing RC churches with the whole congregation praying the rosary, before and after Mass"

Well, the only Catholic parish here where I can recall seeing that practice was one of the Eastern Catholic ones, Wink

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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2004, 12:37:28 PM »

Thanks for doing most of my promised work, Brendan03. To add my 2 cents:
Quote
"1. Erecting a separate class of "canonised" (for lack of a better word) saints"

Anglicans have saints too, by the way.  Yes, we share this in common with Catholics as a practice.  Shiite Muslims also have saints, as do a number of other religions, in their own way.

To which I would add that there are differences in 'canonization" between the RCC and Orthodoxy. The Orthodox canonize by realizing or admitting the already existing holiness of the 'saints' without a (at least to my mind) legalistic catalogue of requiremnts to be examined and passed so that the saint may be "declared" (but I could be wrong and am open to be corrected).

Quote
"2. Venerating and praying to said saints"

Yes we share this in common.

Small point: I think it more proper to say we pray through saints, not to saints.

Demetri
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2004, 12:46:03 PM »



Quote
Well I beg to differ with you.  I do agree that there has been an attempt in some circles within the Catholic Church to "rollback" some of the changes that were made following Vatican II, but I do think that one of them was a change in Marian devotion among the *average* Catholic.  It's good to see that this is being reversed in some places Smiley  


Perhaps this is true, but I do not think overall Mary has been de-emphasized in Catholicism. We are seeing the pendulum slowing wing back the other way, the post-Vat II reforms took things way too far, things are starting to go the other way, people are hungry for the faith, and not the lite version.
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2004, 01:32:30 PM »

I think Orthodoxy's process of declaring her saints is "glorification" while Catholicism's is termed "canonization."

There are three basic criteria a person must fulfill in order to be named a saint in the Catholic Church. The process can take decades.

(1) Declaration of virtues:

This is where the process begins. Under the watch of a local bishop, an investigation begins into the candidate's life and writings and a search for martyrdom, orthodoxy of doctrine, or heroic virtue.

The results of the investigation are turned over to the Vatican, where a panel of theologians evaluates the findings. If the panel and Cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approve, the Pope declares the candidate "Venerable."

(2) Beatification:

This interim step requires proof a miracle took place after the person's death. The Church takes this as proof that the person is in heaven and can act on behalf of people on Earth.

Successful completion of this step leads to a declaration of blessing, or beatification. The person can be venerated by a region or group as "Blessed."

(3) Canonization:

After at least two or more proven miracles, the Pope canonizes the person.  Canonization recognizes what God has already done.

In a sense, declaration of sainthood in the Catholic Church is rigorous.

Amado
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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2004, 01:36:57 PM »

"3. Praying for the dead

Yes, but we also share this with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc.  "

Gosh, yes, but our understanding of what it is is radically different from that of RCs and those other groups listed.  

The most important other group who prays for the dead are the Jews, from whom we received the belief.  It is noted in the Old Testament (2 Mac. 12, 43-46), but only in books which the West saw as suspicious and the Protestants, because the books taught things that didn't jive with their own teachings, rejected.  The way it is discussed is also disturbing to many Protestants.  Many Protestants understand and accept that the early Christians also prayed for the dead, but claim it was on error that was corrected later (over 1,500 years later).  

Certain passages in the Old and New Testaments certainly make more sense within the context of the Orthodox understanding.  Psalms 66:10, Proverbs, 12:3; Ecclesiasticus 2:5; 1 Corinthians, 3, 11-15; and Peter, 1:2 (Thanks to Dr. Alex Roman for making the list at http://www.unicorne.org/Orthodoxy/avril2003/prayersdeparted.htm).  

The radical difference between our understanding and the RC understanding has to do with purgatory.  We are much more willing to allow things to be a mystery to us than to have to explain everything in philisophical or scientific terms.

I remember going with my parents to an Easter service at their baptist church.  The preacher kept going on about how some great barrister from England who had never lost a case could prove in a court of law that the resurrection happened.  Who cares?  Do YOU believe?

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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2004, 01:42:23 PM »

I think it more proper to say we pray through saints, not to saints.

My ROCOR priest friend always insists that we pray TO saints.

I don't necessarily disagree with you, however he IS a traditionalist and says that we pray TO the saints.

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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2004, 01:52:29 PM »

Dear Cizinec:

The way you put it appears to be equivocal.

Your statement lumps the RCC with  the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. on the one hand and the Orthodox on the other. Perhaps, unintentinally?

No. The RCC and the OC are on one side and the non-Christian groups are on the other.

We both derived our practices and belief in praying for the dead from the same source.

However, admittedly there is a difference in our respective understanding of what "purgatory" or "toll house" (or "forecourt of hell") is.

Amado

P.S. Welcome to OC.net!  What took you so long?
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2004, 03:57:45 PM »

My ROCOR priest friend always insists that we pray TO saints.

I don't necessarily disagree with you, however he IS a traditionalist and says that we pray TO the saints.

Peter Theodore

I am sorry Peter; I was not aware you had gone under ROCOR. Wink
However, to belabor my small point I'll pit the archimandite monk who advises me against your ROCOR priest any day. If we must engage in semantics: we ask the saints to pray for us, they being closer to the Lord than we. I guess one 'could' call that praying "to", but I still see a difference.
As to "Traditonalists" - I don't use the term or heed it in general.

Demetri
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« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2004, 04:08:35 PM »

As I said, i don't necessarily disagree with you and consider my ROCOR friend to be engaging in semantics on this point.

Actually if I lived near him I would probably seek a blessing to worship with him rather than set up a Coptic Church just down the road from him. I love him a lot.
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« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2004, 04:15:16 PM »

As I said, i don't necessarily disagree with you and consider my ROCOR friend to be engaging in semantics on this point.

Actually if I lived near him I would probably seek a blessing to worship with him rather than set up a Coptic Church just down the road from him. I love him a lot.

I know what you mean. My local ROCOR priest is wonderful, but relations with ROCOR and ACROD are still a bit strained right now. But when pressed both priests admit respecting each other. We've three Slavic Orthodox Churches in a town of 2000 people and so church life is very interesting around here. Lots of holupki, though.

Demetri
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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2004, 04:15:43 PM »

Peter how many Coptic parishes are there in the UK?
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2004, 06:06:55 PM »

It seems to me that this question can't be solved from a neutral, scholarly point of view. It's a theological issue, and the answer depends on what you think the _truth_ is. If you think that true Christianity was restored in Protestantism, then Catholicism and Orthodoxy are going to look equally mired in error. If you think that Sacred Tradition has been preserved in Orthodoxy, then you will think that Protestants and Catholics are united in rejecting it. Since I think that Orthodoxy is the most doctrinally correct of the Christian churches (although I'm Episcopalian myself), I tend to subscribe to the latter view. But of course a convinced Protestant will see it otherwise. It isn't worth arguing about.

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« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2004, 06:14:09 PM »

Hi Ben

There are about 7 or 8 British Orthodox parishes and missions and about 20 ethnically Coptic ones. Our first English monastery is now being established. There are 3 bishops here, including my own Metropolitan.

Peter
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« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2004, 06:24:54 PM »

Wow!
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« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2004, 02:57:30 AM »

A few responses to things said before:

"I disagree. I do not think Mary has been "dramtically" de-emphasized in the Catholic Church."

>>I must say, I'm going to have to agree with this.  There is a growing movement to declare Mary the Co-Redemptrix with Christ in the RCC.  The RCC has named Doctor of the Church one de Ligouri, who uses such terms as "Mediatrix of all graces," "for salvation, go to Mary," and such.  And of course, Pope John Paul II's motto is "Totus tuus," referring to Mary.  So it seems strange to say the RCC is de-emphasising Mary.

"Surely as an evangelical *protestant* you can understand that your own self-labelling is itself a statement of where your church stands vis-a-vis Catholicism, because it implies of necessity that there is something against which you are Protesting to begin with."

>>  One might be well-served to define that against which I protest to be not the church itself but the unbiblical doctrines it teaches (remember how Martin Luther wanted simply to reform the RCC first and foremost and how much it grieved him to leave it?  The 5 Solas were not "Sola not the Roman church."  They were declarations of doctrine).  The Evangelical Protestant (hereafter, EvProt) doesn't deny a large part of what RCC teaches - the Trinity, Christ as Redeemer, observation of the Eucharist, the Nicean, Apostles', and Chalcedonian creeds, etc.  Given that many of the doctrines (listed in my original 9) held tightly to by RCC and EOC are held by the EvProt to be unbiblical, the EvProt protests against holding to them, but it doesn't matter who professes them.  I suppose the only way you could say what you said is historically.

"Rejection of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide - not our fight..."
>>I understand that historically there was no ideological conflict and no Wars of Religion that branched out from that conflict.  However, now that there is full contact in terms of global communication of ideas, EOC must deal with these ideas.  My contention is that EvProt-ism is unique in holding to Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide while EOC and RCC are together in denying them.  This furthers the rapprochement of EOC and RCC in comparison to EvProt-ism.  

"To these I would add a common western worldview and heritage, a common enthusiasm for humanism, a common idea of mission, a common sense of interaction between the church and society, a common emphasis on preaching, and an increasingly common worship style and approach following the post-Vatican-II reforms in Catholicism."

>>I'll give you the western worldview and heritage, the interaction between church and society, and the worship style to an extent.  As for "humanism," the case is much more easily made that EOC and RCC are closer in that regard, as you yourself said later: 'In Orthodoxy, we believe in "synergeia"...'  From EvProt-ism we see the de-emphasis of human effort in salvation, as Calvinism and its accompanying "monergism" is a major tradition among EvProts and the idea of eternal security (God's grace being more powerful than human effort, more or less) is even more widespread than that.  Accept it or not, this makes any assigning of "enthusiasm for humanism" to EvProts a bit ridiculous.

I do take issue with the emphasis on preaching.  I've been to RCC Masses and to EOC Divine Liturgies and to a variety of EvProt services.  Obviously EvProts preach a lot - given.  But Catholics?  I wouldn't say that I've been to a ton of Masses, but from what I've seen, in the EOC Divine Liturgies I've heard more preaching than at any RCC Mass I've attended.  So I have to take issue with that - EOC and RCC would be closer in this regard.  

"In a sense, the Pope was the first sola scriptura protestant, believing that his own interpretation of certain biblical passages was definitive, binding and authoritative...sola scriptura simply relocates this biblical primacy from the Pope... to the individual believer..."
>> The EvProt would point out that in EOC and RCC both exists the idea of the infallible interpretation of the Scripture.  I'm not trying to be mean, but setting the Pope equal to the EvProt individual believer is silly and misleading.  The Roman Bishop, as we all know, has set his office as the only infallible interpreter of the Scripture officially, to the exclusion of any other interpretation.  The EvProt takes the Scriptural interpretation that seems best according to the best information available and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   He does not consider his interpretation infallible, as opposed to the EOC and RCC.  So, once again, RCC and EOC find themselves together in the one corner.

"at their baptist church.  The preacher kept going on about how some great barrister from England who had never lost a case could prove in a court of law that the resurrection happened.  Who cares?  Do YOU believe?"

>>What if the resurrection carried vast amounts of historical and objective evidence against it?  That would be extremely harmful to the faith and make it no better than any other religion in the world.  For all others except Christians, religion is man's attempt to get to God, is based on experience and mythology and wishful thinking.  Christianity is based on historical fact and substance.  How can this not matter?  
... But perhaps I misunderstand you.

Keep the posts coming if you're still interested - I've learned a lot already and I hope that an EvProt's perspective is helpful for others.   Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2004, 05:28:27 AM »

Ooops, I accidentally checked "Complete" on this string.  Sorry - I'm a newbie.  
MODERATOR - can you un-Complete this?
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« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2004, 08:47:39 AM »

Hey Amado!

It was unintentional.  I apologize.  You are quite right.  I did not intend to lump RC beliefs with Buddhists, etc.

Thanks for the correction.
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« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2004, 08:53:54 AM »

"I must say, I'm going to have to agree with this.  There is a growing movement to declare Mary the Co-Redemptrix with Christ in the RCC.  The RCC has named Doctor of the Church one de Ligouri, who uses such terms as "Mediatrix of all graces," "for salvation, go to Mary," and such.  And of course, Pope John Paul II's motto is "Totus tuus," referring to Mary.  So it seems strange to say the RCC is de-emphasising Mary."

Okay, here is the difference.  There is "official Catholicism" (ie, what the Pope does, what the Vatican writes), on the one hand, and then there is "popular Catholicism" (ie what you see in the parishes in North America, for example).  While the pontificate of JPII has certainly emphasized Mary in "official Catholicism", nevertheless it remains the reality that in "popular Catholicism", Mary is much de-emphasized compared with how "popular Catholicism" behaved prior to the Vatican II reforms.  It also varies by country and ethnicity to a certain degree as well ... this is less the case among Hispanic Catholics, for example, than it is among other North American Catholics.  To take a local example, St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral here in Washington did its interior iconogrphy in the 1990s, and it featured a huge frescoed icon of the Theotokos of the Sign in the Nave ... it is the domininant piece of iconography in that church.  When I have visited the local RC parish down the street, which has just built a new church, I do not see Mary there other than in a rather small statue over to the side.  Which is a reflection of my perception of the differences here between "popular Catholicism" and contemporary Orthodox practice ... Mary is still there in the RCC, but she is not emphasized to the same degree, "official Catholicism" notwithstanding.

"However, now that there is full contact in terms of global communication of ideas, EOC must deal with these ideas.  My contention is that EvProt-ism is unique in holding to Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide while EOC and RCC are together in denying them.  This furthers the [/i]rapprochement of EOC and RCC in comparison to EvProt-ism. "

And, again, the way we view it is that sola scriptura could only have developed out of a Catholic context, where scripture and tradition are viewed as separate but equal sources of authority.  Once you get there, it begs the question of why they should be equal at all, and that's where you get sola scriptura.  For us, there is only Tradition ... scripture is a part of, and indeed the central part of, Tradition, but it not separate from it.  So we see this juxtaposition of scripture vs. tradition as a false dichotomy, and a false dischotomy that was only possible in the context of the Catholic background of viewing them separately to begin with.  By viewing them separately, you are being more Catholic than you think.  Wink

"As for "humanism," the case is much more easily made that EOC and RCC are closer in that regard, as you yourself said later: 'In Orthodoxy, we believe in "synergeia"...'  From EvProt-ism we see the de-emphasis of human effort in salvation, as Calvinism and its accompanying "monergism" is a major tradition among EvProts and the idea of eternal security (God's grace being more powerful than human effort, more or less) is even more widespread than that.  Accept it or not, this makes any assigning of "enthusiasm for humanism" to EvProts a bit ridiculous."

No, I don't think you understood what I meant.  I'll try again.  For Orthodox, the Kingdom is "not of this world", so we place much less stock in trying to come to a human-based understanding of scripture, for example, as the basis for our belief system.  Protestants try to work out what the bible means themselves as individuals, what can be more humanistic than that?  Catholicism for some time relied on Thomistic forms of logical deduction as a basis for theological reflection ... again a human-mind based approach.  Orthodox place much less faith in the abilities of our human minds to understand these things and build theological systems around them.  In that sense, our approach is more mystical and mystery-filled, and that is ipso facto less humanist than either the Protestant or the Catholic approaches.

On salvation, because this is the topic of obsession for protestants, all I will say is that the concept of synergeia is not humanistic, at least not any more humanistic than the person of Christ himself.  Salvation is impossible without Grace, but is also impossible without cooperating with the grace we are given, opening ourselves to let it work in our lives.  This isn't reliance on human merit, it is simply stating the reality that we have choices in life, we can choose good or evil, we can choose to accept grace or to reject it, and those choices have consequences for us.  By saying that human choice is not relevant, Protestants deny the reality of free will, it seems to me, which just flies in the face of reality.  It is a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water ... people were upset with the excesses of medieval Catholicism and a widespread misunderstanding of salvation based on merit, and so in reaction against that they threw out the idea that human choices were at all relevant in salvation!  A large jump indeed.  And in any case, the reality is that the synergeia of divine and human simply reflects Christ Himself, who was also fully human and fully divine ... human to the extent that he suffered temptation per the scriptural text, to the extent the he asked the Father at the 11th hour ... and our own salvation reflects that .. it is part human and part divine, or rather, our humanity cooperating with the divine grace we are given to be transformed by that grace into a deified humanity.   Smiley

"But Catholics?  I wouldn't say that I've been to a ton of Masses, but from what I've seen, in the EOC Divine Liturgies I've heard more preaching than at any RCC Mass I've attended.  So I have to take issue with that - EOC and RCC would be closer in this regard."

My point is that the quality of preaching plays a more important role in the liturgical life of a Roman Catholic than it does for an Orthodox.   People leave Mass reflecting on the quality of the homily ... I haven't seen that as often in Orthodoxy.

"The EvProt takes the Scriptural interpretation that seems best according to the best information available and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He does not consider his interpretation infallible, as opposed to the EOC and RCC.  So, once again, RCC and EOC find themselves together in the one corner."

No, because again we see scripture as a part of Tradition.  The Church as a whole interprets scripture infallibly a a whole and in the context of Tradition.  This is very different from taking scripture alone as the basis for an office (such as the Papacy today) or of a theological system (such as Protestantism).   In this critical sense, Catholics and Protestants are doing the same thing, whether or not they agree as to whether a particular interpretation is "infallible" or not.

"Christianity is based on historical fact and substance.  How can this not matter?"

I find this statement ironic, because in many respects Protestantism in general and EvProtism in particular, is the rejection of history.  You have this strange juxtaposition going on.  On the one hand, many of you are biblical literalists, placing great emphasis on the historical *fact* of biblical events, OT and NT alike.  At the same time, you deny the historical realities that it was the church that existed before the NT was written that wrote the NT to begin with, it was the church that canonized the books that comprise the bible to begin with, historical writings contemporaneous with the time of the writing of the NT indicate that the Eucharist was celebrated from the very beginning, bear witness to the importance of the liturgical life of the church from the very beginning, etc.  There are some things, it seems, that are important historically for Protestants and others that are not, it is picking and choosing.  In my view, this flows from the sola scriptura error.  If the bible is your sole source of authority, well then it better be factually true, because if it isn't, there goes your faith with it.  As Orthodox, we believe in the Holy Trinity and place our faith in Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, rather than in things that humans wrote about Him.  We respect the scriptures, they are central to our Tradition, but our faith is in the living God, for whom the Church is his body.  So while we believe that the NT events depicted in the Gospels are factual, our tradition has never interpreted the OT factually, as many Protestants try to do.  We see many things in the OT as allegorical, and that has no impact on the strength of our faith in the Living God of whom the scriptures speak.

Brendan  






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« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2004, 09:30:47 AM »

Rho,

I think two of the greatest differences in substance are those of Original Sin and Salvation and what they mean.  

Romans and Protestants of all flavors have argued from the beginning about salvation, Mariology, the saints, and even more external issues such as the order of services, all with the same basic understanding of Original Sin.  This theology, more than any other, forms the opinions of both sides of that debate.

While it is true that Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy share many external practices and beliefs received from a common history through the earliest Christians, these externals belie the dramatic differences in their understanding of what these practices and beliefs mean.  In other words, the fruit looks similar, but the meat of the fruit is quite different.  

It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain the problem without getting into the details of each issue.  For instance, the Dormition and Assumption may look identical to Protestant eyes.  So will the issues surrounding the Nativity of the Theotokos.  The understanding of what happened (spiritually) in these events is quite different from the RC and EO perspectives, and these differences are far from subtle.  If we begin to discuss these differences, you will see right away that you will more easily understand and agree with the basic premises of the Roman position, although you will point out what you believe are errors.  You will also see that the Orthodox are so different in the initial stages of the discussion that you will have a difficult time understanding where they are going with the argument.

When I hear RCs and EvProts arguing with each other, they aren’t arguing so much about the basics of Original Sin, but how that affected history.  They don’t argue about whether or not there is inherited guilt, they argue about how to get rid of it.  They don’t argue about the nature of Salvation, but how we get it.  Our understandings of both of these basic beliefs are quite different. We believe that the foundation of the Western Churches’ perspectives is flawed and that this repaints the universe in a way that we do not recognize as true.

I disagree that one cannot see these differences intellectually and it’s all a matter of the side one picks.  Regardless of what “side” one chooses, one can understand intellectually why someone would say that RCs and EvProts are closer to each other than Orthodoxy.  

P.S., I know that a lot of RCs and BCs will say the approaches are different but compatible.  I don’t agree and this probably isn’t the thread to discuss that issue.  But you guys know I love ya!
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« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2004, 09:36:40 AM »

I think Brendan makes an excellent point:  cataphatic vs. apophatic understanding of God.  Quite a radical difference.

Differences:

What is comprehensible about God

Original Sin

Salvation


Similarities:

Pray for dead (but understand differently)

Think the Theotokos is important (although in different ways)

Liturgical

Hierarchical (but with a different understanding)
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« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2004, 09:49:05 AM »

Rho -

Any of this sound familiar?  Wink

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« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2004, 10:38:29 AM »

Gentlemen (and ladies, if there be any who have contributed), I appreciate your comments - they are very educational and helpful to me.  A few other points:

"reality that in 'popular Catholicism', Mary is much de-emphasized compared with how "popular Catholicism" behaved prior to the Vatican II reforms. "

>>Perhaps I could be enlightened as to how millions continue to flock to the famous sightings of the Virgin in Fatima, Lourdes, etc. and how "Maryophanies" continue popping up all over the place in modern times.  I guess I don't quite understand what you mean.  But maybe that sort of thing was more prevalent pre-Vat II.   I'm man enough to admit my ignorance (sometimes).  

" So we see this juxtaposition of scripture vs. tradition as a false dichotomy, and a false dischotomy that was only possible in the context of the Catholic background of viewing them separately to begin with."
>>This conversation can get ever so close to debating the *merits* of Orthodoxy versus EvProt-ism, but that is not really my intention here.  Let me point out that this statement also serves to underscore the difference in viewpoint - for the EvProt the EOC and RCC reject Sola Scriptura (define "reject" however you want to, it doesn't matter), which the EvProt sees as a yet more historically supported doctrine than its opposing doctrine (since we believe it is laid out in the Bible itself), while for the EOC the EvProt and RCC are in the same boat because they differentiate between Tradition and Scripture.
I know that I am on thin ice on the subject of discussing the issue at hand, but it is pertinent to point out that Christ Himself distinguished between Scripture and Tradition (Matthew 15:1-9), so the EvProt feels pretty darn safe in making the very same distinction.

"humanism"
>> OK, good point about the mystery element of EOC worship - I can see what you mean.  Let me hasten to remind the viewing audience that only certain strains of Calvinism "deny the reality of free will," as you put it, Brendan.  What EvProts as a whole *do* deny is that man's puny efforts, which "are as filthy rags" before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6), can justify him before God.  Most EvProts affirm the necessary real choice of a man to accept Christ or not to, but it is no more a meritorious action than the beggar's holding out his hand for a handout is a meritorious action.

"And in any case, the reality is that the synergeia of divine and human simply reflects Christ Himself"
>> A good 5-Point Calvinist (which I am not) would point out that Christ had no need of salvation, so this is not the greatest example.  

"They don’t argue about the nature of Salvation, but how we get it." (cizinec)
>>Well, yes and no.  I guess the point about Original Sin and its guilt is a good one (according to my limited knowledge of the EOC position on that), but as for the nature of salvation, RC and EOC are quite different from EvProt-ism.  EvProts hold to a change of nature at the moment of salvation and a distinction between justification and sanctification, whereas EOC and RCC repudiate that distinction, holding that they occur over time and simultaneously and continuously.  

"Dormition and Assumption may look identical to Protestant eyes."
>>I read up on the "Dormition" on this site - my understanding is that it refers to Mary's death, whereas the Assumption is her post-death physical taking to heaven?  RCC is actually in conflict over whether they believe she died first or did not die at all (I think so, anyway), and this illustrates yet again, given the absence of this concept in EvProt-ism, a similarity between RCC and EOC.


Anyway, all this to say that, given the activity my original post has generated and how there have been points made on both sides, only some of which have been responded to, it would seem that the original thesis (that the "placing of two of the three on one coin versus the other one" is completely subjective with no real objective preponderance of evidence in favor of any one position) stands.  I've even managed to get a few members on the side of *my* thesis!  ;-)  

Pedro - yes, much of it does, but I don't know if *we* have ever really discussed this particular subject in detail.
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« Reply #30 on: May 12, 2004, 11:36:38 AM »

Rho,

I think you're still caught up in the "here and now."  

I'm not talking about the timing of salvation (here and now and at one time or a process), I'm talking about the essence and definition of salvation.  EvProts and RCs see salvation quite differently than the Orthodox.  Sure, you guys argue about when and the process, but not about what salvation is.

Your analysis of the Assmuption vs. Dormition is cursory at best.  I do not doubt that you do not know or understand the substantive differences and from where they come.  I merely noted that you would at least understand the basis of the RC position and their explanation.  To look at this issue at such a superficial level and then conclude that  "that the "placing of two of the three on one coin versus the other one" is completely subjective with no real objective preponderance of evidence in favor of any one position" is terribly hasty and intellectually dishonest.

One can compare and contrast any two things.  I am reminded of a postmodern anthropologist (I'm banging my head to remember the name) who was explaining to a South American tribe why he classified a whale as a mammal.  The tribe found his classification bizarre.  Later, he found that the tribe classified the armpit the same as it classified the underside of a leaf (things that are warm and moist).  Finding similarities on the surface of any subject for the purpose of easy classification (especially when involving us vs. them) is intellectually dangerous.  Most always classify all "others" in a group.  Perhaps we are guilty of that when we say you look more RC to us because you accept most of their axioms.  You say we look more RC because of the smells and bells.  Having been an EvProt, I know what it teaches and why I disagree.  

I hope you are not attempting to briefly scan Orthodox theology and conclude that Orthodoxy = Catholicism because it looks like it after a quick look and without delving into the substance.  I would prefer that you say that you don't understand and that you are happy where you are.   From your post, you don't understand the distinctively Orthodox foundations that make Orthodoxy "different" from the West.
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« Reply #31 on: May 12, 2004, 11:54:41 AM »

Rho,

For those items where you believe we agree, say in the Dormition, you can't use your old standard Protestant refutations to Latin claims.  We don't make the same arguments.  If it's easier for you to assume that the Latin refutations work, I invite you to delve further into the discussion.
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« Reply #32 on: May 12, 2004, 12:36:25 PM »

I'm sorry, Cizinec, it is possible you missed my discussion of the essence of salvation.  Here it is again:  "EvProts hold to a change of nature at the moment of salvation and a distinction between justification and sanctification, whereas EOC and RCC repudiate that distinction, holding that they occur over time and simultaneously and continuously. "

The emphasis of this idea is not in the time, how long it takes or whatever.  The idea is that for EOC and RCC, justification and sanctification are not separated and are thus similiar in that very important way.  For the EvProt, justification is an event where the nature is changed from the sin nature to the nature of Christ and when one is baptised in the Holy Spirit (no charismatic implication intended).  These are very different - the EvProt is -boom- in the faith and nevermore out, while the EOC or RCC can fall out at anytime.  This is a discussion dealing with essence.  But my guess is that you have something else in mind, so it would be nice to discuss that too.

This is perhaps my fault for ending the body of my post on the Domitian of Mary.  My intention was *not* to make any commentary on the distinctions, since, as I admitted, I know so little about them.  However, my whole point is the subjective nature of Ware's assertion.  The EvProt sees EOC and RCC united together in defining a doctrine of what happened to Mary at the end of her life.  Somehow or another, she goes to heaven in a way other than most any other mortal in history.  EvProtism holds that she died, was buried, and went to be "absent from the body, present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5), pure and simple.  So you have to admit the similarities lie more strongly with EOC and RCC than with RCC and EvProt.  

"terribly hasty and intellectually dishonest."  
>> I'm sure you mean that in the best way possible.   Wink
I think that you say that because you have confused my uneducated comment on the Domition as proof that Ware's assertion is subjective.  No, the proof is in the pudding - some of the EOC posters on this string have made arguments that have been new to me.  And I have made some to which no EOC poster has been able to respond.  That is the whole point of this discussion - I take exception to Ware's assertion because it is so subjective and anybody could make it and back it up with examples of stronger similarities between Group A and Group B than there exist between Group A and Group C.  


"From your post, you don't understand the distinctively Orthodox foundations that make Orthodoxy "different" from the West."
>>Just to be fair, I will say that my understanding of EOC is less than that of RCC or EvProt-ism, but then again, if you truly believe that I am completely wrong, respond to my arguments.  Not about the Domition of Mary or something that I admit is a powderpuff, but against the meat of it, the things I have so far successfully defended against you and the other posters.  But always with my thesis in mind, not debating the merits of EOC vs. EvProt-ism.  That's for another string.   Cheesy
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« Reply #33 on: May 12, 2004, 02:22:57 PM »

For the meaty issues, I would suggest that each deserves its own thread.  

I certainly did not mean any offense.  I would just encourage you to come to a better understanding of the issue or accept that you don't know and move on.  

As for successfully defending . . . against what?  I still feel like I am talking past you and that we are approaching an issue before terms are properly defined.

If you mean by that that Ware's assertion is subjective, I would agree that it's debatable, but not important.  Who is or who isn't more or less like a Latin doesn't get us any closer to God.
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« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2004, 03:16:58 PM »

Rho,

Quote
My thesis statement is that Ware's assertion cannot be supported and that EOC and RCC show so many similarities that Prot-ism does not share as to make the assertion not worth making.

That's generally how Roman Catholics respond to this common Orthodox perspective (it's not just Bp. Kallistos who has voiced this p.o.v.)

In the way you're approaching the matter, I'd have to agree with you.  If I were to sit down and draw up a point by point list of doctrines, there is no doubt the RCC is closer to Orthodoxy than any of the Protestant denominations (even the more liturgical groups like the Lutherans.)  Add a teaching here, subtract many there...on that level the two have many similarities which neither share with Protestantism.

However, this is typically not how the Orthodox view the matter.  Generally, they're thinking from a more fundamental level - something perhaps even more basic than doctrinal particulars (even biggies like the Papacy or the Filioque).  They'd go so far as to argue that it is this more basic difference in mindset (greek: phronema) which explains the separation, and goes a long way in explaining how those particular doctrinal differences came about in the first place.

Though there are many ethnicities which populate Orthodoxy, at the heart the similarity in "mindset" (and it's distinctiveness) remains.  I'll try to explain.

Orthodox Christianity is traditional; theology is not treated as a discipline of philosophy, but simply as words speaking truthfully (as far as words can) about the revelation of God.  Given this, the Church's role would be more conservative than to break new ground.  "Theological creativity" is a contradiction, as would be the idea that we in later times can speculate our way through syllogistic reasoning to doctrines and concepts which simply were not part of the faith taught and practiced by the Apostles.  This is not to say there is no need to always try and better frame and express the Christian witness - but it would mean that entirely novel concepts, no matter how allegedly well argued, are avoided...or at best, remain private opinions.  It's observed by Orthodox that Roman Catholics are of a mind totally to the contrary; all of their doctrinal distinctives are founded upon such anti-traditionalism (safely veiled under the mantle of "doctrinal development").  The Protestants have the same basic tendency - it manifests itself in the continual desire/need to re-invent the wheel, and the idea that practically everything is up for argument if one can find a "scriptural basis" for it.  Once again, no matter how seemingly well argued, the spirit of novelty/creativity involved in such practices is contrary to the Orthodox way of doing things.  I would argue also that at one time, it was also contrary to the way western Christians believed and practiced their faith (thus the assertion that the west was once Orthodox.)

Given this, while it is true that on a piece of paper one can undoubtedly list more particular doctrinal similarities between Orthodoxy and Catholicism than one could between Orthodoxy and Protestantism, on a much more basic level the assumptions underlying Protestantism and Catholicism have similarities not shared with the Christian East...which makes sense, since Protestantism is the child (or bastard depending on who you ask) of Roman Catholicism, and as such participates in some of the basic things which separated RC'ism from Orthodoxy in the first place.

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« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2004, 03:26:43 PM »

Hi Seraphim

Glad to see your sig points to Father John Romanides website.

How do you think your point applies to the generality of the faithful? I accept that theologians may or may not be 'progressive' or 'conservative'. Philosophical or mystical. But do the faithful tend not to be much more conservative? What are the similarities and dissimilarities between faithful in your opinion and how does that relate to the premise in view?

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2004, 11:51:20 PM »

The emphasis of this idea is not in the time, how long it takes or whatever.  The idea is that for EOC and RCC, justification and sanctification are not separated and are thus similiar in that very important way.  For the EvProt, justification is an event where the nature is changed from the sin nature to the nature of Christ and when one is baptised in the Holy Spirit (no charismatic implication intended).  These are very different - the EvProt is -boom- in the faith and nevermore out, while the EOC or RCC can fall out at anytime.

   -- Rho...this, I think, is another instance of "y'all's" list of comparisons vs. "ours."  From our point of view, both the EvProt and RC views deal with salvation -- be it instantaneous or gradual -- as a transfer of merits that is largely (if not completely) extrinsic in nature to the actual state of the human being.  The eastern approach is something entirely different -- that of man's intrinsic reaction to the very person and nature of Christ.  So, to us, this comparison of yours is nicely "counterbalanced."

Quote
Somehow or another, she goes to heaven in a way other than most any other mortal in history.


   -- Actually, the Dormition within Orthodoxy is held up as something all humans can share in personally.

Quote
I take exception to Ware's assertion because it is so subjective and anybody could make it and back it up with examples of stronger similarities between Group A and Group B than there exist between Group A and Group C.  

   -- Granted, it is subjective...I think, perhaps, we may be looking at different "coins," here...you at one dealing with "doctrinal similarities," we at one dealing with overall approach to experiencing God.  The two do overlap at times, but they should not be confused or seen as interchangeable.  Perhaps you are thinkng of a coin to which Bp. KALLISTOS was not referring?
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« Reply #37 on: May 13, 2004, 12:17:56 AM »

this statement also serves to underscore the difference in viewpoint - for the EvProt the EOC and RCC reject Sola Scriptura (define "reject" however you want to, it doesn't matter), which the EvProt sees as a yet more historically supported doctrine than its opposing doctrine (since we believe it is laid out in the Bible itself), while for the EOC the EvProt and RCC are in the same boat because they differentiate between Tradition and Scripture.

Remember, Rho -- we don't make that distinction.  We would say that you and the RCC differentiate the two, since EvProts want to indict extra-biblical tradition as being incompatible and RC's want to support the papacy from Scripture alone and not the Fathers -- we see Scr. and Tradition as the seamless garment you can't rend.

Quote
Most EvProts affirm the necessary real choice of a man to accept Christ or not to, but it is no more a meritorious action than the beggar's holding out his hand for a handout is a meritorious action.

   -- ...which amounts still to an anti-Incarnational view of salvation.  Christ did not merely redeem us by immediately "overpowering" the human flesh he took on; he lived all his life in constant submission to the Father -- being subject to all temptation, yet without sin.  This advent -- His entire life -- was and is the source of our redemption, a redemption in which we share by enduring to the end in our confession of Him.

Quote
Brendan: "And in any case, the reality is that the synergeia of divine and human simply reflects Christ Himself"
Rho: >> A good 5-Point Calvinist (which I am not) would point out that Christ had no need of salvation, so this is not the greatest example.  

   -- Right, but as I said, we did and do need it, and partake of it by being in Christ and in His Incarnate suffering and resurrection.  Because He paved the way, we are able to walk it.  It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us...yet we must die daily so that we will be raised with Him.
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« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2004, 09:39:21 AM »

I've even managed to get a few members on the side of *my* thesis!  ;-)

Just a small point, Rho:  Almost all those participants are Roman Catholic (the board has Catholic and Protestant participants).  I don't think any (I may be mistaken about one) of the Orthodox have actually responded that way.

I'll lend my voice to what others have said:  Orthodox and Roman Catholics only seem to be "on the same side of the coin" when one assumes Western Christian terms of analysis from the outset.

For example, it is imprecise and unfair to say that Orthodox, 'like the Catholics,' 'reject Sola Scriptura.'  As others have pointed out, it is the very separation of Sacred Scripture from Tradition which the Orthodox reject as a novelty.  This separation was first made by the Western Church, and without it, the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura could not even be formulated.  So, yes, at the root level, Catholicism and Protestantism share a common "point of view" that separates them from us.

You may dismiss that by stating, 'Yes, but that's just point of view; I'm talking about formal doctrines!'  But, this different orientation/point of view logically precedes and conditions the understanding of doctrines.  In that sense, it is point of view that is more fundamental, and that is why, to us, the divide between Eastern and Western appears more fundamental than that between Protestant and Catholic.

So, while it is true that Orthodox and Roman Catholics both speak of the "infallibility of the Church," the fact is, we mean very different things by that phrase.  And the same is true of Holy Orders, the episcopacy, veneration of Mary, and on down the line.  The words may be the same, but the meanings attached to them are often quite different.  And, in my experience, many Evangelical Protestants would just as soon ignore those differences; I guess it makes things too complicated.

The very impulse to want to dismiss, downplay, or "run past" this fundamental difference in point of view is something Protestants share with Roman Catholics.  No doubt, it is because their shared point of view seems perfectly "natural" to them.  But, it doesn't seem that way to us.

(By the way, in our reading of Mt 15:1-9, Jesus repudiates Pharisaic interpretations, which the Pharisees pass off as the "traditions of the elders," for contradicting the meaning of Scripture.  Orthodox would never hold that a so-called "tradition" that did that was truly part of Tradition.  We believe Jesus is making a point about bad "traditions," not rejecting the value of Tradition as such, and not making a claim that Holy Writ took shape and was handed down entirely independently of the community it addresses.  It does suggest, though, that Sacred Scripture must stand at the very core of that Tradition, and as a guidepost and rule for measuring all aspects of the Tradition.  The Orthodox have no problem with that understanding of Scripture.)
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« Reply #39 on: May 13, 2004, 10:14:19 AM »

Oh... my apologies, didn't realise that this site was well populated by Roman Catholics and Protestants as well.  Hi there everyone! Cheesy

Quote
it is imprecise and unfair to say that Orthodox, 'like the Catholics,' 'reject Sola Scriptura.'

>>I will continue pointing out my thesis statement - that Ware's assertion is subjective.  With this in mind, the EvProt believes Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that appears in the Bible and so is indeed something that must be rejected.  Now, it has been repeated many times that Orthodox recognise no separation between Scripture and Tradition, which leads me to the last thing Ambrose mentioned:
Quote
Mt 15:1-9, Jesus repudiates specific Pharisaic traditions for contradicting the meaning of Scripture

>>The only way this passage makes sense is if Jesus made the distinction.  It makes no difference at all whether they were "valid Church traditions" or not - the point is that He marked a cut-off point:  this is Scripture, this is not.  I understand that you (like RC-ics) believe that Jesus is repudiating only "bad" traditions.  Jesus would say that this viewpoint is irrational - the way He judged between "good" and "bad" traditions was by the Scripture, as He says in this passage.

Quote
But, this different orientation/point of view precedes and conditions the creation of doctrines.

>> The crazy thing about this is that you simply *assume* this about the EO point of view - the EvProt disagrees because he sees the doctrine of Sola Scriptura laid out clearly in the Scriptures, and an educated EProt rejects the idea that there is a consensus patrus that shoots down Sola Scriptura.  So, see what I mean about subjective?
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« Reply #40 on: May 13, 2004, 01:33:16 PM »

:The only way this passage makes sense is if Jesus made the distinction.  It makes no difference at all whether they were "valid Church traditions" or not - the point is that He marked a cut-off point:  this is Scripture, this is not.:

Both these claims are false. Jesus explicitly speaks of "traditions of men" and contrasts them not to Scripture per se but to the Word of God.  You are _assuming_ that the Word of God is revealed solely in and through Scripture. But that is an assumption you are bringing _to_ the text, not deriving from it.

It is also noteworthy that the specific tradition Jesus mentions is not found in any of the voluminous writings of the rabbinic tradition which have been preserved to our day. So not only does the passage not show Jesus attacking tradition in general, it shows him attacking a tradition so marginal that it does not even show up outside the NT!

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« Reply #41 on: May 13, 2004, 01:37:17 PM »

Dear Rho,

I still think you're missing a fundamental point.  Put it this way:  The Catholics say, "When it comes to the issue of Scripture and Tradition, we believe they are separate and equal sources."

To which the Protestants respond, "No, Scripture alone should be the basis for the establishment of any doctrine."

But the Orthodox respond:  "This conversation is starting from the wrong premises, so we can neither agree nor disagree with either set of conclusions.

"Scripture lies at the very heart and core of Tradition, and Tradition is of the very essence of the Scriptures.  They permeate each other.

"Tradition cannot be said to be 'equally important,' because that would be to suggest that there can be valid Traditions that are independent of the Scriptures, or that Scripture can be conceived outside of Tradition.

"Neither does it make sense to say 'Sola Scriptura,' if by that is meant that Tradition should play no role in the acceptance of doctrine; that Scripture, read apart from Tradition, is alone enough to establish doctrine.  Many of the central doctrines accepted even by most Protestants are not accepted or taught that way:  the Consubstantiality of the three Persons of the Trinity, among many others."
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« Reply #42 on: May 13, 2004, 05:48:26 PM »

the EvProt believes Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that appears in the Bible and so is indeed something that must be rejected.

I assume you meant, "accepted"?  Wink

Quote
the point is that He marked a cut-off point:  this is Scripture, this is not.

No, we would say he said, "This (i.e., Scripture) is true tradition (i.e., the Word of God to man), and the Corban rule, for example, is not."

Quote
I understand that you (like RC-ics) believe that Jesus is repudiating only "bad" traditions.  Jesus would say that this viewpoint is irrational - the way He judged between "good" and "bad" traditions was by the Scripture, as He says in this passage.

OK, it's probably not a good thing to claim to know what Jesus "would say."   Grin

Secondly, Scripture itself was a part of tradition, from the canon to rabbinical tradition.  It was a given (as it still is) that Scripture is of COURSE, good tradition, so it would make sense to quote from it.  Yet this does not mean Scripture would stand alone, as ambrosemzv and Edwin have said.

Quote
"The crazy thing about this is that you simply *assume* this about the EO point of view -"

You would contest that one's epistemology determines his hermeneutic of the world?  Huh

Quote
the EvProt disagrees because he sees the doctrine of Sola Scriptura laid out clearly in the Scriptures, and an educated EProt rejects the idea that there is a consensus patrus that shoots down Sola Scriptura.  

I have yet to hear anything convincing along these lines from anyone calling themselves an educated EvProt.
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« Reply #43 on: May 13, 2004, 06:03:49 PM »

Just out of curiosity,

Since the OT wasn't written down until Moses, how did all the information get to him?  Could it have been through an oral tradition and not the written word?
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« Reply #44 on: May 13, 2004, 06:06:14 PM »

Hiya

Many cultures, such as the Irish for instance, had a rich and substantial culture which was illiterate and which transmitted information successfully for long periods of time.

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