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Author Topic: Is Orthodoxy as State Religion Unfair? (Rant + Questions seeking answers)  (Read 8772 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: March 06, 2011, 10:06:07 AM »

As some may know, I had a discussion with another Orthodox Christian a couple weeks ago about various issues. One of the questions he posed to me has been bugging me for a while. I hold a point of view, that a nation should have Orthodoxy as it's "state religion" and that there needs to be an active, working relationship between Church and State based roughly/relatively on either the Byzantine Model or the Russian Model.
He posed to me that this is extremely unfair to those who aren't Orthodox and that it is wrong to "persecute" or "limit" these people simply because they hold a different faith...

Last week, a teacher (not the person I had talked with previously) was talking to us about Greek history (a Greek) told us (for some reason) about a Pagan named Hypatia, who was killed by Christians. However, she said it was Patriarch (and Saint) Cyril I who had her killed, and she then cited that this was a trend that would occur in the Church repeatedly through it's history. This astounded me and I wondered if this teacher was even an Orthodox Christian.

It got me to wondering if Greece allows Atheists (and non-Orthodox) to teach in their universities. I felt it was extremely unfair to the Orthodox (and to the non-Orthodox in the case of my classes) to have people like this teaching, as they will teach things that many youth won't understand is either factually wrong, or even at times, outright lies. (for example, St. Cyril wasn't responsible for Hypatia's death, it was a Christian mob, not the Patriarch's goons)

I also hold a position that Atheists and non-Christians should never... ever be commissioned to design Churches. It horrified me to learn that Le Corbusier was commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church to design a Church as well as a monastery. (both of which are horrific examples of Christian architecture, even though the architecture community idolizes them)

In our Western Society, we are taught that secularism should rule the day, and that there should be a thick brick wall separating Church and State. To break through this wall is extremely unfair, unjust and oppressive to individuals of different faiths. Models of the past, whether they be the Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, or others, are held as primitive, barbaric and oppressive. Our modern ways instead are held up as being the only way, and as being much more advanced.

It simply sickens me to think that some of these young, impressionable Greek Orthodox Christians here in Greece (who often aren't active in their Church lives, at least until they get married and have kids) might be influenced by non-Orthodox in these universities. Frankly, I regard it as completely unfair to the Orthodox that they possibly have people teaching them that will be teaching them falsehoods and sometimes outright lies.

So I would like to pose a question to other Orthodox Christians on here...
Do you think it is very unfair to non-Orthodox to have a country that has a working relationship between the Church & State?
Should we move past the Byzantine and Russian Empires, or are they models that we should continue to improve on and strive for?
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2011, 12:35:51 PM »

You can probably guess my view on the matter.  I don't know about "fair" or "unfair", the are both useless words in my opinion.  However, I see nothing in the Scriptures upholding Democracy as an ideal form of government, nor do I see anything requiring a separation between Church and State.  When such a separation exists, we are to "render unto Caesar" the things that are his, but I see nothing that prevents an Orthodox Theocracy.  So, to answer your question, the ideal situation for me would be a pious Orthodox ruler and an Orthodox state that, while not physically persecuting the non-Orthodox, also did nothing to encourage them either.
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I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2011, 03:11:01 PM »

Thank you for your reply...

... and bump
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2011, 03:29:26 PM »

Do you think it is very unfair to non-Orthodox to have a country that has a working relationship between the Church & State?

Pretty much. As long as there isn't a state where everybody is a practising EO there shouldn't be an Orthodox state.
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2011, 04:00:23 PM »

Do you think it is very unfair to non-Orthodox to have a country that has a working relationship between the Church & State?

Pretty much. As long as there isn't a state where everybody is a practising EO there shouldn't be an Orthodox state.

Agreed.
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2011, 04:35:56 PM »

You can probably guess my view on the matter.  I don't know about "fair" or "unfair", the are both useless words in my opinion.  However, I see nothing in the Scriptures upholding Democracy as an ideal form of government, nor do I see anything requiring a separation between Church and State.  When such a separation exists, we are to "render unto Caesar" the things that are his, but I see nothing that prevents an Orthodox Theocracy.  So, to answer your question, the ideal situation for me would be a pious Orthodox ruler and an Orthodox state that, while not physically persecuting the non-Orthodox, also did nothing to encourage them either.

I agree.
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88Devin12
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2011, 04:36:11 PM »

Does this come out of a Western view though, or is this a view formed by being in the Orthodox Church?

I think we need to be very wary about what the West feeds us.

Just exactly would be so wrong about an Orthodox State?
Right now, Greece, Russia and others have Orthodoxy as their State Religion (well, for the most part) and it is supported by the State. Is this unfair to the 10% of those countries that aren't Orthodox?

In the Byzantine Empire, was it unfair to the Nestorians and Arians (and by extension to the Jews & Pagans) that the Empire was Orthodox?
Or in Russia, was it unfair to the Muslims and Pagans (and the very few Catholics) that Russia was Orthodox and had a working relationship?

Is our modern Western concept of democracy better than the structure of the Byzantine & Russian Empires? If so, then why?
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2011, 04:48:27 PM »

Does this come out of a Western view though, or is this a view formed by being in the Orthodox Church?

The Orthodox Church and "a Western view" (whatever that might be) are not mutually exclusive.

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I think we need to be very wary about what the West feeds us.

I'm not quite sure what's implied by this blanket statement/sweeping generalization.

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Just exactly would be so wrong about an Orthodox State?

Not too much, probably, but one thing would be that Orthodoxy is the Mystical Body of Christ and should not be forced upon anyone. I could envision a real problem where people think they are "Orthodox" simply because of their nationality. In fact, is this not a common problem today, even in those two countries you mention below?

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Right now, Greece, Russia and others have Orthodoxy as their State Religion (well, for the most part) and it is supported by the State. Is this unfair to the 10% of those countries that aren't Orthodox?

Yes.

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In the Byzantine Empire, was it unfair to the Nestorians and Arians (and by extension to the Jews & Pagans) that the Empire was Orthodox?

I suppose it depends.

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Or in Russia, was it unfair to the Muslims and Pagans (and the very few Catholics) that Russia was Orthodox and had a working relationship?

Possibly.

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Is our modern Western concept of democracy better than the structure of the Byzantine & Russian Empires? If so, then why?

It depends on the people being governed. One system could work for one people, while the other one wouldn't.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 04:49:43 PM by Sleeper » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2011, 05:07:12 PM »

Does this come out of a Western view though, or is this a view formed by being in the Orthodox Church?

I don't think that the Church teaches much about politics. "Render unto Caesar" etc. is pretty much all that I've encountered and I don't find that contradictory with the Western view.

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I think we need to be very wary about what the West feeds us.

And we need to be very wary about what the East feeds us.

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Is our modern Western concept of democracy better than the structure of the Byzantine & Russian Empires? If so, then why?

Yes. Since states consists of people and are created for the people I don't think states should promote that kind of views that the people doesn't uphold.
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2011, 05:08:49 PM »

Does this come out of a Western view though, or is this a view formed by being in the Orthodox Church?

The Orthodox Church and "a Western view" (whatever that might be) are not mutually exclusive.

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I think we need to be very wary about what the West feeds us.

I'm not quite sure what's implied by this blanket statement/sweeping generalization.

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Just exactly would be so wrong about an Orthodox State?

Not too much, probably, but one thing would be that Orthodoxy is the Mystical Body of Christ and should not be forced upon anyone. I could envision a real problem where people think they are "Orthodox" simply because of their nationality. In fact, is this not a common problem today, even in those two countries you mention below?

Quote
Right now, Greece, Russia and others have Orthodoxy as their State Religion (well, for the most part) and it is supported by the State. Is this unfair to the 10% of those countries that aren't Orthodox?

Yes.

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In the Byzantine Empire, was it unfair to the Nestorians and Arians (and by extension to the Jews & Pagans) that the Empire was Orthodox?

I suppose it depends.

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Or in Russia, was it unfair to the Muslims and Pagans (and the very few Catholics) that Russia was Orthodox and had a working relationship?

Possibly.

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Is our modern Western concept of democracy better than the structure of the Byzantine & Russian Empires? If so, then why?

It depends on the people being governed. One system could work for one people, while the other one wouldn't.

How are you so ready to declare that the modern countries of Greece and Russia are being unfair to a minority when the Church-State relations currently in existence aren't even close to that of Byzantium & Russia of the past?

You could say it's a problem that people think they are Orthodox because of their nationality. But the thing is, EVERYONE is baptized. Therefore, you and I cannot judge whether or not they are/are not Orthodox.
Here in Greece, something like 95-98% of the population are Orthodox Christians. I would venture to say that almost all of those are baptized. Therefore, they ARE Orthodox Christians.

In Greece, about .5% are Protestant, .5% are Roman Catholic, and 1% are Muslim. These make up the majority of religious minorities, there is also a small amount of Atheists as well.

It is very unfair to the 98% of Greeks that are Orthodox that their government should be subject to the evils of secularism and so-called "fairness".

Is there a reason we cannot say that the models of the Byzantine Empire & the Russian Empire aren't better simply because they are Orthodox?
What makes these Protestant/Roman Catholic and Secular models of governance any better than models that were possibly inspired by God?
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88Devin12
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2011, 05:12:10 PM »

Does this come out of a Western view though, or is this a view formed by being in the Orthodox Church?

I don't think that the Church teaches much about politics. "Render unto Caesar" etc. is pretty much all that I've encountered and I don't find that contradictory with the Western view.

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I think we need to be very wary about what the West feeds us.

And we need to be very wary about what the East feeds us.

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Is our modern Western concept of democracy better than the structure of the Byzantine & Russian Empires? If so, then why?

Yes. Since states consists of people and are created for the people I don't think states should promote that kind of views that the people doesn't uphold.

So if 90% of the population is Orthodox, does that not allow for a closer Church-State relationship? Or do the 10% hold the majority say? (that is, does the minority rule, or the majority?)

If the models of Byzantium & Russia were inspired by God (possibly) then what makes the models invented by Roman Catholics, Protestants (and even Atheists) any better?
If anything, can't we argue that the non-Orthodox models may in fact be subject to less-than-holy powers?
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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2011, 05:29:31 PM »

So if 90% of the population is Orthodox, does that not allow for a closer Church-State relationship? Or do the 10% hold the majority say? (that is, does the minority rule, or the majority?)

No. States should be based on those views that are shared by all.

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If the models of Byzantium & Russia were inspired by God (possibly)

Do we have any reason to believe this?


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...then what makes the models invented by Roman Catholics, Protestants (and even Atheists) any better?

Reason.
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2011, 05:50:28 PM »

So if 90% of the population is Orthodox, does that not allow for a closer Church-State relationship? Or do the 10% hold the majority say? (that is, does the minority rule, or the majority?)

No. States should be based on those views that are shared by all.

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If the models of Byzantium & Russia were inspired by God (possibly)

Do we have any reason to believe this?


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...then what makes the models invented by Roman Catholics, Protestants (and even Atheists) any better?

Reason.

What makes reason so special? Especially since the way it's used in the West has absolutely destroyed Western Theology and the Christian faith in the West?

While the Byzantine Empire had problems, we can look at it's whole history and see that the relationship between the Church & the State actually worked relatively well. (again, ignoring a few bad points) Not to mention the structure of the Church itself.
Also, consider how many Emperors, Empresses and others in the Roman government are Saints. Are we just going to say that the Church was wrong in making them Saints?

Again, I pose the question to you... Was it wrong to "subject" the pagans, Nestorians, Arians and others to an Orthodox Government (as well as Church?)?

Remember that one of the jobs of the Emperor was to be the "enforcer" of some of the canons and decisions of the councils. He had the ability to exile the guilty parties.

In today's secular society, we would cry out that such behavior is closed minded and oppressive. Yet such behavior is an act of protection of the Orthodox Christians, who should be protected by both the Church and the State from heretics.

While I've been asking if it's unfair, I should instead be asking which is right. Christianity isn't based on fairness, so that is kind of the wrong question to be asking.

Are the Byzantine/Russian models right? Or are the secular, Western models right? Which is more Christian and based on our Orthodox faith?
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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2011, 06:10:39 PM »

What makes reason so special?

It is the God-given faculty with which we solve many of our problems and evaluate the world around us.

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Especially since the way it's used in the West has absolutely destroyed Western Theology and the Christian faith in the West?

Therein lies the rub; the way reason is used is the issue, not reason itself. You're utilizing reason merely in trying to work out this topic, aren't you? It's inescapable.

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While the Byzantine Empire had problems, we can look at it's whole history and see that the relationship between the Church & the State actually worked relatively well.

For the specific people being governed in a specific time and place, yes.

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Also, consider how many Emperors, Empresses and others in the Roman government are Saints. Are we just going to say that the Church was wrong in making them Saints?

Not necessarily, but some things do have to be questioned Wink


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Again, I pose the question to you... Was it wrong to "subject" the pagans, Nestorians, Arians and others to an Orthodox Government (as well as Church?)?

It depends. In some cases maybe, in some cases maybe not. It appears with your understanding of "the West" and history in general, that you prefer things to be black and white, which is understandable, but rarely the case.

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In today's secular society, we would cry out that such behavior is closed minded and oppressive. Yet such behavior is an act of protection of the Orthodox Christians, who should be protected by both the Church and the State from heretics.

And who protects those that do not believe what we believe? Do you really think the State should be the protectors of doctrine?

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Are the Byzantine/Russian models right? Or are the secular, Western models right?

It depends on the people being governed.

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Which is more Christian and based on our Orthodox faith?

Does the Orthodox faith have a set position on political governance?
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 06:16:22 PM by Sleeper » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2011, 06:25:19 PM »

What makes reason so special?

What a weird question. I think reason's value is self-evident. Do you have any other methods to distinguish true from untrue?

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While the Byzantine Empire had problems, we can look at it's whole history and see that the relationship between the Church & the State actually worked relatively well. (again, ignoring a few bad points) Not to mention the structure of the Church itself.

Well that depends of what we mean by "well". That's purely a matter of opinion. I think that Western model of religiously neutral state works relatively well.

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Especially since the way it's used in the West has absolutely destroyed Western Theology and the Christian faith in the West?

I don't think it's reason which has destroyed Western Theology and the Christian faith in the West. For example I don't find Roman Catholicism or Atheism as reasonable options. I converted to Orthodoxy because I thought ( and still think ) it was a perfectly reasonable option.

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Are we just going to say that the Church was wrong in making them Saints?

No. We say that the Church declared them as Saints because they repented for their sins and loved their enemies, not because of their position in society.

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Again, I pose the question to you... Was it wrong to "subject" the pagans, Nestorians, Arians and others to an Orthodox Government (as well as Church?)

Yes, if that meant violation of their rights. For example I don't think that states has right to expel someone from their homelands just because of his/her religious belief.
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« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2011, 06:30:47 PM »

I'm not suggesting that the Church have a position on governance.

Is it not entirely possible that the past often is more right than the present?

Isn't one of the errors of Western society the belief that with time, with more reason, more facts, more technological advancement, that our society itself improves?

While the Church doesn't really have a position on governance. I would say that the most "Biblical" and most "Orthodox" of systems are a Monarchy/Empire and Democracy (though not the American style of Democracy necessarily).

Is it not one of our goals as Orthodox Christians to work to turn the whole world to Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2011, 06:34:35 PM »

What makes reason so special?

What a weird question. I think reason's value is self-evident. Do you have any other methods to distinguish true from untrue?

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While the Byzantine Empire had problems, we can look at it's whole history and see that the relationship between the Church & the State actually worked relatively well. (again, ignoring a few bad points) Not to mention the structure of the Church itself.

Well that depends of what we mean by "well". That's purely a matter of opinion. I think that Western model of religiously neutral state works relatively well.

Quote
Especially since the way it's used in the West has absolutely destroyed Western Theology and the Christian faith in the West?

I don't think it's reason which has destroyed Western Theology and the Christian faith in the West. For example I don't find Roman Catholicism or Atheism as reasonable options. I converted to Orthodoxy because I thought ( and still think ) it was a perfectly reasonable option.

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Are we just going to say that the Church was wrong in making them Saints?

No. We say that the Church declared them as Saints because they repented for their sins and loved their enemies, not because of their position in society.

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Again, I pose the question to you... Was it wrong to "subject" the pagans, Nestorians, Arians and others to an Orthodox Government (as well as Church?)

Yes, if that meant violation of their rights. For example I don't think that states has right to expel someone from their homelands just because of his/her religious belief.

The concept of "rights' is really just been invented. If you think about it, we really don't have rights. We have privileges.
We have a right to live and not to be killed/tortured. (and in the case of with God, the right of free will) Other than that, everything else is pretty much just a privilege.
So what rights did the Nestorians and Arians have? What rights did they deserve when they actively and knowingly brought outright disgusting heresy to the Orthodox?

You are simply imposing modern Western viewpoints onto the past. That, my friend, is what is wrong. We need to judge our present on our past. We should NOT judge our past based on our present.

(hmm... this is getting pretty darn close to politics, if not over that line... would it be possible to get this moved there if it is?)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 06:35:51 PM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2011, 06:38:30 PM »

you should add a poll onto this...
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« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2011, 06:39:13 PM »

I wouldn't be oposed to an orthodox theocracy if it didn't abuse its power, the question is this however, how much religious freedom is given to the non orthodox religions? Are the protestants, muslims and Jews allowed to have their houses of worship and freely speak what they believe without the fear of persecution or silence? Because that was one of the key criticisms of the ancient fathers against Pagan Rome that they were being persecuted for merely speaking what they believed, as well as being silenced, I think it would be hypocritical to then do the samething that the fathers accused the pagans of. Then of course however there is the problem that by allowing non orthodox to speak they could effect the political system in an attempt to get rid of it. I'm not an expert on the Byzantine empire by any means, but even then the church and the state weren't completely connected, rather they operated like partners with a common belief (correct me if wrong), the church deciding theological matters and the state deciding how best to rule based on the principle truths of the church or some sort of system like this. In that same way I think it would be best to adopt that sort of model, and possibly include new elements (not contradicting orthodoxy of course) such as freedom of speech and practice of religion though not letting them have a place in the government. Of course im not orthodox as of yet, so this is just my uneducated opinion.

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« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2011, 06:40:08 PM »

you should add a poll onto this...

What should the options be?

Yes?
No?
Other? (Specify)
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2011, 06:42:00 PM »

I wouldn't be oposed to an orthodox theocracy if it didn't abuse its power, the question is this however, how much religious freedom is given to the non orthodox religions? Are the protestants, muslims and Jews allowed to have their houses of worship and freely speak what they believe without the fear of persecution or silence? Because that was one of the key criticisms of the ancient fathers against Pagan Rome that they were being persecuted for merely speaking what they believed, as well as being silenced, I think it would be hypocritical to then do the samething that the fathers accused the pagans of. Then of course however there is the problem that by allowing non orthodox to speak they could effect the political system in an attempt to get rid of it. I'm not an expert on the Byzantine empire by any means, but even then the church and the state weren't completely connected, rather they operated like partners with a common belief (correct me if wrong), the church deciding theological matters and the state deciding how best to rule based on the principle truths of the church or some sort of system like this. In that same way I think it would be best to adopt that sort of model, and possibly include new elements (not contradicting orthodoxy of course) such as freedom of speech and practice of religion though not letting them have a place in the government. Of course im not orthodox as of yet, so this is just my uneducated opinion.

This is a great summary, and I agree.
I'm not saying that we should persecute these other faiths. I'm just saying that Orthodoxy should be dominant. They should have their houses of worship and be allowed to practice also. But that doesn't mean they should be supported by the state.
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2011, 06:55:52 PM »

The concept of "rights' is really just been invented. If you think about it, we really don't have rights. We have privileges.
We have a right to live and not to be killed/tortured. (and in the case of with God, the right of free will) Other than that, everything else is pretty much just a privilege.

So you are saying that we have rights only in case that we deserve them? The starting point of your view is not individual but society in which individuals have rights only in case they conform to society's rules?

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So what rights did the Nestorians and Arians have?

Since state consists of individual human beings why some individuals would be entitled to dictate other individual's lives? Why would an individual Orthodox Christian should be entitled to govern, say, an individual Nestorian's life?

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You are simply imposing modern Western viewpoints onto the past. That, my friend, is what is wrong. We need to judge our present on our past. We should NOT judge our past based on our present.

Why?
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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2011, 06:57:57 PM »

Devin, I come from the Republic of Ireland another small country (and also like Greece another ongoing economic disaster zone, but that's another story) the population there is over 85 percent Catholic. Therefore by your logic we should establish a closer state Church relationship.Further following your example as I understand it we would be justified in limiting rights regarding religious freedom to minorities. That would include the members of various Orthodox Churches who now comprise the fourth largest Christian group in the state. In fact to an extent the Irish state and Catholicism did become intertwined both pre and post independence. Just like Russia or Greece the results were (as always when fallible human beings are involved) rather mixed.

 You are using special pleading* and distorting history markedly. Seperation between Church and state has never been an essential part of Catholic thinking as many here both Catholic and Orthodox will be aware. Democracy as a modern ideal is the result of many historical forces and Catholics, Orthodox, Jews, atheists etc. have all played parts in that process. However a seperation between Church and state as a fundamental good is not something Catholicism has ever taught.

*Now you may argue that and say of course from your viewpoint Orthodoxy is guide by God but I have heard similar arguments to your own from the Catholic side of the fence in which the arguments are very similar and only the various nations used as examples and other terminology changes.
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And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way
Sorrowful.

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« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2011, 10:46:22 PM »

To the OP
So, you'd like your non-Orthodox family to live in a ghetto and be subject to humiliating, but legal, discrimination for their salvation, of course?
Man, that's really f%$$#u@%.
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« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2011, 04:31:57 AM »

Orthodoxy is technically not the state religion of Greece.  Since PASOK (the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement) has held office for better than 2/3rds of the past 30 years, they have whittled down the government's close association with the Church.  The revised religion recognition law PASOK passed in the late '80's, uses terminology other than "state religion," in their recognition of the Greek Orthodox Church's prominent role in Greek society.  Clergy remain on the public payroll, though, and the Archbishop of Athens, vested, continues to swear in the prime minister an president.  I saw a video of an "Agiosmos"-"Blessing of the Waters" ceremony for the parliament, and female representatives (PASOK, no doubt) were laughing while His Beatitude was sprinkling the Holy Water upon them and the assembly.  In answer to an earlier inquiry, I'm sure atheists teach in the state universities, these days.
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« Reply #25 on: March 08, 2011, 07:20:14 AM »

Atheists,Christians and members of numerous other faiths no doubt teach in Greek universities just as they do in Irish and other universities. That is not liable to change. In Ireland the Catholic Church too held a special position under the constitution until the mid 1970's when an ammendment was made via referendum to end that status. Certainly members of the govt. laughing while an Archbishop engages in a solemn duty is disrespectful and deeply rude and not reflective of the dignity of their own posts.
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« Reply #26 on: March 08, 2011, 07:47:02 AM »

To the OP
So, you'd like your non-Orthodox family to live in a ghetto and be subject to humiliating, but legal, discrimination for their salvation, of course?
Man, that's really f%$$#u@%.

I don't really understand where you got that from...

I don't think the non-Orthodox live in ghettos in either Greece or Russia.

Also, I'm going to have to say that my belief is that the most important thing in society is the community and the whole, not the individual.

Therefore, I would say that Orthodoxy itself would benefit society more than any other faith. Additionally, I would conclude that having a working relationship between the Church & the State (whether as "light" as modern Greece/Russia or as "heavy" as ancient Byzantium/Russia) would also benefit society and the community as a whole.

I recognize that such a relationship would technically be "unfair" to non-Orthodox. But I would say that it's also not a situation where they are persecuted for their beliefs.

What I'm wondering is if we should believe that such a relationship is wrong. We are taught by Western Culture & Society (especially in the United States) that having any relationship between Church & State is wrong, and that even bringing religion into politics is wrong and oppressive.

I simply cannot, and will not accept this point of view. But I would like to know if other Orthodox Christians feel the same way as I do, or whether they feel like the Orthodox Church was in the wrong in having a relationship with the Byzantine Empire and the Russian Empire.
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« Reply #27 on: March 08, 2011, 07:53:13 AM »

Orthodoxy is technically not the state religion of Greece.  Since PASOK (the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement) has held office for better than 2/3rds of the past 30 years, they have whittled down the government's close association with the Church.  The revised religion recognition law PASOK passed in the late '80's, uses terminology other than "state religion," in their recognition of the Greek Orthodox Church's prominent role in Greek society.  Clergy remain on the public payroll, though, and the Archbishop of Athens, vested, continues to swear in the prime minister an president.  I saw a video of an "Agiosmos"-"Blessing of the Waters" ceremony for the parliament, and female representatives (PASOK, no doubt) were laughing while His Beatitude was sprinkling the Holy Water upon them and the assembly.  In answer to an earlier inquiry, I'm sure atheists teach in the state universities, these days.

My argument would be that the atheists that teach in the Universities should be severely restricted in what point of view they teach.

Currently we have a professor who is Greek, but has said some things that aren't very flattering about both Christ's Church, and the Byzantine Empire. I can tolerate the stuff about the Empire, but it legitimately angered me when she spoke about the Orthodox Church in the same manner I've heard some Westerners talk about the Roman Catholic Church.

This professor (in my opinion) should not be allowed to teach such views, because now, there are many students who (and I can tell from their own comments) think about the Orthodox Church in the same way they think about the Roman Catholic Church. I've been working really hard to try to show them the truth, and in one class period, because this teacher has a position of authority, she undermined all I've been trying to do.
Personally, if in fact this teacher happens to be an atheist (or even non-Orthodox), this professor should be reprimanded and some sort of action should be taken.

We are taught to look at all sides, which is okay. But this professor's side is not the truth, the Orthodox Church holds the full truth. People need to learn all points of view, but in Orthodox Countries, we need to teach our students what the truth really is, and show everything else to be either distortions or even outright lies.
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« Reply #28 on: March 08, 2011, 07:54:59 AM »

The concept of "rights' is really just been invented. If you think about it, we really don't have rights. We have privileges.
We have a right to live and not to be killed/tortured. (and in the case of with God, the right of free will) Other than that, everything else is pretty much just a privilege.

So you are saying that we have rights only in case that we deserve them? The starting point of your view is not individual but society in which individuals have rights only in case they conform to society's rules?

I also don't completely accept a lot of American values. I don't believe we should have the right to complete freedom of speech. There are certain groups and people that should have no rights to publicly express their views.
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« Reply #29 on: March 08, 2011, 10:31:48 AM »

Christ came and established the Church, not a earthly kingdom or government.  If Christ's kingdom is not of this world, the Church has nothing to do with this world either.  On the subject of politics being mingled with religion, that is an opinion based on worldly philosophies.  On the subject the Church being mingled with politics would be a blasphemy.  No Orthodox empire was successful, and always incorporated unChristian methods.  Have you noticed how the Church is at her best in fact when it was suppressed by the government, and worse when it controls government?

The murder of Hypatia is a good example, but I would argue St. Cyril had nothing to do with it and couldn't control it.  As I explained to my sister, who's also studying Hypatia, a bunch of Christians whose fathers and grandfathers were tortured by pagans, felt they wanted to return the favor, but St. Cyril taught to love your enemies and never was accused of the crime, only shamed by it.
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« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2011, 10:38:17 AM »

I would definitely support an Orthodox Christian state.  Unfortunately, I don't think that such a state would ever exist in the US so the next best thing is a separation of Church and state and a fiercely defended Freedom of Religion.  If things work properly, the same law that allows Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others practice their religions should support mine as well.  The problem that I see with our current system is that it more rigorously defends the separation of Church from state than it does the Freedom of Religion.  You don't have to remove every vestige of religion from government to have a separation of Church and state, you just have to make sure that the state doesn't support one religion more than an other.  I don't see a school in a majority Christian area having a prayer at a graduation to be state support of religion.  I see a majority of the people living their life - the basis of Democracy.  If the state said that Synagogues are tax-exempt but Mosques are not - that is state support of religion.
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« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2011, 11:31:41 AM »


Last week, a teacher (not the person I had talked with previously) was talking to us about Greek history (a Greek) told us (for some reason) about a Pagan named Hypatia, who was killed by Christians. However, she said it was Patriarch (and Saint) Cyril I who had her killed, and she then cited that this was a trend that would occur in the Church repeatedly through it's history. This astounded me and I wondered if this teacher was even an Orthodox Christian.

Do you believe an Orthodox Christian must always tow the "party line" of Church history and not call a spade a spade when we see corruption, brutality or wrong doing in the Church? Or do you "really" believe the Church and no saint has ever done anything wrong? I'm curious what sort of view of Church history you actually have because it seems to me that you think and feel the Church and no saint has ever done anything seriously wrong.

As for the Hypatia thing, while Cyril himself wasn't technically involved, it was his monks and loyalists fired up by Cyril's youthful passionate sermons that actually committed the murder. (this isn't Cyril's fault, however I do think his youthful zeal at times got the best of his preaching early in his life) Contrary to Christian apologetics, the Christians who murdered Hypatia were not merely a "mob" going on a rampage and Hypatia merely a bystandard who got caught in the cross fire of some riot. That apologetic has no basis in any of the historical accounts we have of these events. She was actively sought out for the sole purpose of being murdered because Cyril's loyalists felt it was she that prevented the governor from being reconciled to Cyril. (that doesn't make it true only that this is how they perceived it) There are as far as I know 2 historical accounts by Christians; where the earlier historian, Socrates Scholasticus, a contemporary of the events says Cyril wasn't directly involved and he even says such actions are contrary to the spirit of Christianity. However he was involved in the sense that he was at center stage of the controversy that actually lead up to her murder and it was a well known Reader named Peter who lead the group to murder her.  As far as I know Cyril never excommunicated any of the people involved either, at least we have no records of that.

The later account by a  bishop named john of Nikiu in his histories actually gives Cyril "credit" for destroying "the last remains of idolatry in the city." He actually glories in the murder and says Peter, was a Christian perfect in every way. See http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/nikiu2_chronicle.htm

Of course the later account is full of spin doctoring and demonization that the contemporary account doesn't have. I believe there is another later account by a Pagan historian which says Cyril was directly involved, but I have yet to verify that with my own research. Just because a Pagan wrote it doesn't make it bad history, just as just because a Christian wrote it doesn't make it good history. (unless you think murdering  60 year old philospher who actually had good relations with many Christians was a "perfect" thing to do like John of Nikiu did?)


Quote

I also hold a position that Atheists and non-Christians should never... ever be commissioned to design Churches.

how do you feel about the Emperor Constantine commissioning the building of Churches BEFORE he was a Christian then? granted, he didn't design it so it's not quite the same thing, but still . . . .

Quote
So I would like to pose a question to other Orthodox Christians on here...
Do you think it is very unfair to non-Orthodox to have a country that has a working relationship between the Church & State?

Ask yourself that same question but replace the word Church with the word Islam and see how you answer it. Many Muslims feel just as strongly as you do about the unity of their faith with the state. A separation of religion and state is the ONLY safeguard we have against many of the dangers that such unity poses. Idealistically, church and state union would be ideal, but that only works if everyone is honest and pure; since that will NEVER be the case some other safeguard must be put into play not only to protect non Christians but to protect the Church as well. If Church and state had never been united in the ancient world half the heresies we know of would never have gotten off the ground. it was the union of Empire and Church that made heresies possible to gain large followings because they were enforced. The Church wasted too much time fighting heresies and each other because of the unity of Church and state when such energy could have been better spent doing lots of other things.

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« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2011, 12:17:57 PM »

To the OP
So, you'd like your non-Orthodox family to live in a ghetto and be subject to humiliating, but legal, discrimination for their salvation, of course?
Man, that's really f%$$#u@%.

I don't really understand where you got that from...

I don't think the non-Orthodox live in ghettos in either Greece or Russia.

Also, I'm going to have to say that my belief is that the most important thing in society is the community and the whole, not the individual.

Therefore, I would say that Orthodoxy itself would benefit society more than any other faith. Additionally, I would conclude that having a working relationship between the Church & the State (whether as "light" as modern Greece/Russia or as "heavy" as ancient Byzantium/Russia) would also benefit society and the community as a whole.

I recognize that such a relationship would technically be "unfair" to non-Orthodox. But I would say that it's also not a situation where they are persecuted for their beliefs.

What I'm wondering is if we should believe that such a relationship is wrong. We are taught by Western Culture & Society (especially in the United States) that having any relationship between Church & State is wrong, and that even bringing religion into politics is wrong and oppressive.

I simply cannot, and will not accept this point of view. But I would like to know if other Orthodox Christians feel the same way as I do, or whether they feel like the Orthodox Church was in the wrong in having a relationship with the Byzantine Empire and the Russian Empire.

To try to look back across the pages of history regarding the relationship between the church and state in former imperial times and ask if the Orthodox Church was 'wrong' in having such a relationship is really just a hypothetical, collegiate, time-passing exercise. That being said, I never grew out of enjoying such conversations!

There is a distinction between the unrealized 'ideal' relationship between the two and the actual 'real world' history that did occur.

I would argue that one can construct an 'ideal' nation-state where a benevolent Church ruling with a benevolent civil authority (either democratically chosen or regal) COULD, and probably would be a beneficial thing. This is hardly a unique or a new notion, its roots tracing back to Blessed Augustin and the City of God.

However, history teaches us, as Lord Acton so precisely observed that "Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely." The overall history of the Church and its relationship to the state when the Church was a state religion prior to modern times is hardly one of benign goodness and abhorrence of temporal power and greed. During those periods when wise and spiritually complete men ruled the Church, she flourished and the rights of all citizens, regardless of faith, were generally respected. (By norms that would not likely be acceptable in modern times, but which were understood as fair in their own times.)

However, when the Church was ruled by men who were zealots, greedy, revengeful or power hungry - well, things were not so good - even for the pious Orthodox who were not in the right 'camp.'

Some of us tend to forget that while the Church is God's vehicle, it is driven by men. who like all of us are by nature subject to temptation and are hence, incomplete.

The problem in the post-religious West is that those who call for a 'Berlin Wall', if you will, of absolute separation of Church and State have created their own anti-faith theology which was unknown to most of the thinkers and philosophers of the Enlightenment, the Restoration and the American Revolution.

So, in answer to your question, in the realm of the real world, I reluctantly would have to argue that if any faith is so intertwined with the secular powers, Orthodoxy being no exception, those who do not profess the State religion will inherently be at risk.

In America, there is a rising belief among Evangelicals that Christianity (as they define it) ought to be a semi-state religion. Well then, for example, if that is so, whose prayer will open the local school board meeting? A non-trinitarian 'Jesus' prayer common among evangelicals? A Rosarian plea to the Virgin written by a traditionalist Catholic? A Unitarian plea? A troparion from the day from our tradition? I think you know the answer and it is an answer that would make minority Christian denominations feel even more alone than we already do in this country. That, I think, provides the answer to your original question.

(And by the way, Jews did live in ghettos in Russia and east Europe.)
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« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2011, 12:55:55 PM »

A separation of religion and state is the ONLY safeguard we have against many of the dangers that such unity poses.
The militant secularism if not down right atheism going on demosntrates that that is no safeguard.



Quote
Idealistically, church and state union would be ideal, but that only works if everyone is honest and pure; since that will NEVER be the case some other safeguard must be put into play not only to protect non Christians but to protect the Church as well. If Church and state had never been united in the ancient world half the heresies we know of would never have gotten off the ground. it was the union of Empire and Church that made heresies possible to gain large followings because they were enforced. The Church wasted too much time fighting heresies and each other because of the unity of Church and state when such energy could have been better spent doing lots of other things.
Many heresies and schisms florished before Constantine, and many more afterwards.  The Nestorians have survived, yet never having been a state church.  A State Church does not cause such problems, just presents new opportunities.  Where there is no state Church, heretics and schismatics take advantage of that as well.
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« Reply #34 on: March 08, 2011, 01:14:38 PM »

I'm going to say that the Church has never, ever persecuted or killed anyone for their faith. The Church is the absolute perfect, unblemished bride of Christ.
People within the Church may do these things, but it's wrong (and blasphemous in my opinion) to attribute these to the Church.

In the words of my Priest's spiritual father... (this may not be EXACT, but it's the point)
"You must remember to never speak badly about the Church. We might dress her up and make her to look like a prostitute. But remember that she is the pure and unblemished bride of Christ"

So to speak of the Church as being responsible for the deaths of persecuted peoples is just wrong. Yes, Bishops, Monastics, or even Laypeople may be responsible, but just because they participate doesn't mean we get to attribute that to the whole Church.

______

Regarding history... I'm going to say that the Orthodox sources are MUCH more reliable than the non-Orthodox. For example, if there are accounts of the Crusades, I'm going to trust the sources from the Byzantine Empire before I ever would trust those coming from either the Muslims or the Roman Catholics.

Or in the case of the Council of Florence, I would say that the account of St. Mark of Ephesus and others on his side are the correct accounts, and other accounts that contradict them are either simply incorrect, or are outright lies.

Modern scholarship will tell us that belief in Angels, Demons, etc... is a detestable relic of the Middle Ages and Antiquity. How then, can we possibly trust this same modern scholarship when it speaks on other issues?
If a "historical account" or anything "discovered" by modern scholarship contradicts our faith and the account of the Church. It has to be rejected.

Another example, is that modern scholarship would say that St. George never ever fought a dragon. If the hagiography of the Church says it happened, then it did.
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« Reply #35 on: March 08, 2011, 01:26:44 PM »

I'm going to say that the Church has never, ever persecuted or killed anyone for their faith. The Church is the absolute perfect, unblemished bride of Christ.
People within the Church may do these things, but it's wrong (and blasphemous in my opinion) to attribute these to the Church.

In the words of my Priest's spiritual father... (this may not be EXACT, but it's the point)
"You must remember to never speak badly about the Church. We might dress her up and make her to look like a prostitute. But remember that she is the pure and unblemished bride of Christ"

So to speak of the Church as being responsible for the deaths of persecuted peoples is just wrong. Yes, Bishops, Monastics, or even Laypeople may be responsible, but just because they participate doesn't mean we get to attribute that to the whole Church.

______

Regarding history... I'm going to say that the Orthodox sources are MUCH more reliable than the non-Orthodox. For example, if there are accounts of the Crusades, I'm going to trust the sources from the Byzantine Empire before I ever would trust those coming from either the Muslims or the Roman Catholics.

Or in the case of the Council of Florence, I would say that the account of St. Mark of Ephesus and others on his side are the correct accounts, and other accounts that contradict them are either simply incorrect, or are outright lies.

Modern scholarship will tell us that belief in Angels, Demons, etc... is a detestable relic of the Middle Ages and Antiquity. How then, can we possibly trust this same modern scholarship when it speaks on other issues?
If a "historical account" or anything "discovered" by modern scholarship contradicts our faith and the account of the Church. It has to be rejected.

Another example, is that modern scholarship would say that St. George never ever fought a dragon. If the hagiography of the Church says it happened, then it did.

I don't think that an Orthodox Christian scholar should be afraid of critical analysis and honesty when studying history. Such a reaction is more typical of many Muslims in this world. Their faith rejects critical studies and look what you have.

If you simply rely on one view of history and discount the analysis of opposing points of view you can never present an argument that anyone not of your belief system can ever accept or understand. Some of the most useful and sympathetic writings and knowledge of the ancient Church comes from sources outside of Orthodoxy and even Christianity.

If you only studied design and architecture and structural engineering from sources that you were attracted to and refused to acknowledge that competing schools of thought and design may have some insight that can allow you to better understand and perfect your own knowledge, you would be selling yourself short. You might never learn the structural weaknesses of a failed project or understand how one technique might lead you to the same result if you don't study it.

I am not arguing that you can find another path to salvation, but I think you want to put blinders on from the rest of the world in the hopes that your own faith isn't challenged. Just my opinion.
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« Reply #36 on: March 08, 2011, 04:01:25 PM »

I'm going to say that the Church has never, ever persecuted or killed anyone for their faith. The Church is the absolute perfect, unblemished bride of Christ.
People within the Church may do these things, but it's wrong (and blasphemous in my opinion) to attribute these to the Church.

In the words of my Priest's spiritual father... (this may not be EXACT, but it's the point)
"You must remember to never speak badly about the Church. We might dress her up and make her to look like a prostitute. But remember that she is the pure and unblemished bride of Christ"

So to speak of the Church as being responsible for the deaths of persecuted peoples is just wrong. Yes, Bishops, Monastics, or even Laypeople may be responsible, but just because they participate doesn't mean we get to attribute that to the whole Church.

______

Regarding history... I'm going to say that the Orthodox sources are MUCH more reliable than the non-Orthodox. For example, if there are accounts of the Crusades, I'm going to trust the sources from the Byzantine Empire before I ever would trust those coming from either the Muslims or the Roman Catholics.

Or in the case of the Council of Florence, I would say that the account of St. Mark of Ephesus and others on his side are the correct accounts, and other accounts that contradict them are either simply incorrect, or are outright lies.

Modern scholarship will tell us that belief in Angels, Demons, etc... is a detestable relic of the Middle Ages and Antiquity. How then, can we possibly trust this same modern scholarship when it speaks on other issues?
If a "historical account" or anything "discovered" by modern scholarship contradicts our faith and the account of the Church. It has to be rejected.

Another example, is that modern scholarship would say that St. George never ever fought a dragon. If the hagiography of the Church says it happened, then it did.

I don't think that an Orthodox Christian scholar should be afraid of critical analysis and honesty when studying history. Such a reaction is more typical of many Muslims in this world. Their faith rejects critical studies and look what you have.

If you simply rely on one view of history and discount the analysis of opposing points of view you can never present an argument that anyone not of your belief system can ever accept or understand. Some of the most useful and sympathetic writings and knowledge of the ancient Church comes from sources outside of Orthodoxy and even Christianity.

If you only studied design and architecture and structural engineering from sources that you were attracted to and refused to acknowledge that competing schools of thought and design may have some insight that can allow you to better understand and perfect your own knowledge, you would be selling yourself short. You might never learn the structural weaknesses of a failed project or understand how one technique might lead you to the same result if you don't study it.

I am not arguing that you can find another path to salvation, but I think you want to put blinders on from the rest of the world in the hopes that your own faith isn't challenged. Just my opinion.

Actually that is also (kind of) what I do for architecture. I really greatly dislike modern architecture. I only study traditional architecture and traditional methods of Urban Design and architecture. I've learned about modern architecture extensively here in school. I'm actually kind of sick of it.

In my viewpoint, it is the past that holds the direction for the future. It's not just some sense of utopia or something. The people of the past did honestly do things better than us. Just because we have technology and the ability to do something doesn't make us any better.

This goes the same way for faith. I don't denounce critical analysis, I believe it should happen. Personally I try to learn the other points of view. But I don't let them influence my own. I keep my own viewpoint shut in within Orthodoxy. I learn about other faiths and other points of view. But there is absolutely no way I'm going to ever let them influence my own religious views.

I understand where a lot of the things come from in the West, especially in historical analysis. But they are imposing their own standards and views onto the past. They aren't simply taking the past for what it's worth. They automatically hold the Holy Fathers as being wrong.

And yes, I do recognize certain points about Islam. But i'm not talking about adopting a fanaticism. I'm talking about retaining our faith, retaining our mysticism and retaining our faith in our own Church. Our Church is not, and cannot be wrong because she is guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, God himself.

Also, yes, things are often more black/white than some may admit. The World wants to give you a paintbrush, and with it, a swatch of grey. It then tells you to paint everything around you with that grey, whatever you want. The World calls the grey good, and tries to use it to "unify" us, yet while it's unifying us, it's dividing us from God and his Church.
Sure, not everything is black and white, but many, many things are that we often aren't willing to admit because our own world and society says it's wrong and calls us closed-minded and ignorant when we refuse the paintbrush.
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« Reply #37 on: March 08, 2011, 04:27:23 PM »

I'm going to say that the Church has never, ever persecuted or killed anyone for their faith. The Church is the absolute perfect, unblemished bride of Christ.
People within the Church may do these things, but it's wrong (and blasphemous in my opinion) to attribute these to the Church.

In the words of my Priest's spiritual father... (this may not be EXACT, but it's the point)
"You must remember to never speak badly about the Church. We might dress her up and make her to look like a prostitute. But remember that she is the pure and unblemished bride of Christ"

So to speak of the Church as being responsible for the deaths of persecuted peoples is just wrong. Yes, Bishops, Monastics, or even Laypeople may be responsible, but just because they participate doesn't mean we get to attribute that to the whole Church.

______

Regarding history... I'm going to say that the Orthodox sources are MUCH more reliable than the non-Orthodox. For example, if there are accounts of the Crusades, I'm going to trust the sources from the Byzantine Empire before I ever would trust those coming from either the Muslims or the Roman Catholics.

Or in the case of the Council of Florence, I would say that the account of St. Mark of Ephesus and others on his side are the correct accounts, and other accounts that contradict them are either simply incorrect, or are outright lies.

Modern scholarship will tell us that belief in Angels, Demons, etc... is a detestable relic of the Middle Ages and Antiquity. How then, can we possibly trust this same modern scholarship when it speaks on other issues?
If a "historical account" or anything "discovered" by modern scholarship contradicts our faith and the account of the Church. It has to be rejected.

Another example, is that modern scholarship would say that St. George never ever fought a dragon. If the hagiography of the Church says it happened, then it did.

I don't think that an Orthodox Christian scholar should be afraid of critical analysis and honesty when studying history. Such a reaction is more typical of many Muslims in this world. Their faith rejects critical studies and look what you have.

If you simply rely on one view of history and discount the analysis of opposing points of view you can never present an argument that anyone not of your belief system can ever accept or understand. Some of the most useful and sympathetic writings and knowledge of the ancient Church comes from sources outside of Orthodoxy and even Christianity.

If you only studied design and architecture and structural engineering from sources that you were attracted to and refused to acknowledge that competing schools of thought and design may have some insight that can allow you to better understand and perfect your own knowledge, you would be selling yourself short. You might never learn the structural weaknesses of a failed project or understand how one technique might lead you to the same result if you don't study it.

I am not arguing that you can find another path to salvation, but I think you want to put blinders on from the rest of the world in the hopes that your own faith isn't challenged. Just my opinion.

Actually that is also (kind of) what I do for architecture. I really greatly dislike modern architecture. I only study traditional architecture and traditional methods of Urban Design and architecture. I've learned about modern architecture extensively here in school. I'm actually kind of sick of it.

In my viewpoint, it is the past that holds the direction for the future. It's not just some sense of utopia or something. The people of the past did honestly do things better than us. Just because we have technology and the ability to do something doesn't make us any better.

This goes the same way for faith. I don't denounce critical analysis, I believe it should happen. Personally I try to learn the other points of view. But I don't let them influence my own. I keep my own viewpoint shut in within Orthodoxy. I learn about other faiths and other points of view. But there is absolutely no way I'm going to ever let them influence my own religious views.

I understand where a lot of the things come from in the West, especially in historical analysis. But they are imposing their own standards and views onto the past. They aren't simply taking the past for what it's worth. They automatically hold the Holy Fathers as being wrong.

And yes, I do recognize certain points about Islam. But i'm not talking about adopting a fanaticism. I'm talking about retaining our faith, retaining our mysticism and retaining our faith in our own Church. Our Church is not, and cannot be wrong because she is guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, God himself.

Also, yes, things are often more black/white than some may admit. The World wants to give you a paintbrush, and with it, a swatch of grey. It then tells you to paint everything around you with that grey, whatever you want. The World calls the grey good, and tries to use it to "unify" us, yet while it's unifying us, it's dividing us from God and his Church.
Sure, not everything is black and white, but many, many things are that we often aren't willing to admit because our own world and society says it's wrong and calls us closed-minded and ignorant when we refuse the paintbrush.

Thank you as your response was reassuring as you sometimes come across as being overly enthusiastic and unquestioning about many things. I can see that is not really the case.

A couple of comments from my point of view.

I don't agree with your blanket statement that people from the past necessarily did things better than we do and I don't think that is what you mean. For example, I am constantly amazed by the Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling was able to calculate loads, flexibility and structural stresses for a bridge without the benefit of a.) knowing what types of weights, stresses and vibrations and pollutants that the future would bring and b.) doing all of the algorithms, geometry, physics and trig without a computer or calculator. We would NEVER step foot on a modern bridge that was designed and constructed using those techniques and i doubt that there are any designers who would be so audacious today to even think they could do what Roebling did.

Another example is the Apollo space program. We each have computing power in front of us at our desks which exceeds the entire available computing power of the entire Apollo program by an exponential factor. I laugh when I see the movie Apollo 13 and see all of the engineers with slide rules computing the trajectory for the return. Could we do that today? Maybe, but perhaps not.

However, I have an eye condition that would have left me blind in just my grandfather's time. Due to modern medicine my situation can be controlled and stabilized. That is just one example. Keep those blood sucking leeches off of my arms if I get the flu, that's for sure.

I think that you are perhaps romanticizing the past and accepting some of the populist pablum being fed to the public these days by both the political right and left. The 'it's my way or the highway' mentality inevitably leads to societal dysfunction or worse.

I don't view morals as situational, I don't view truth as something that can be parsed, I believe that Evil exists in this world and that we are compelled to fight it. I have learned over the years that there are more people out there in this culture who hold those basic truths than the popular media (again left or right from their own points of view) would want you to believe.

Keep on searching, keep on learning and if your faith is well formed, you should never be afraid that searching or learning will destroy you or the Church. (Please accept the 'old guy' observations for what they are worth. Things seemed different to me thirty five years ago in many ways than they do today as well, but as the French say, the more things change, the more they stay the same!)

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« Reply #38 on: March 08, 2011, 04:46:00 PM »

you should add a poll onto this...

What should the options be?

Yes?
No?
Other? (Specify)

sounds good to me
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« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2011, 04:56:46 PM »

Kevin--Podkarpatska has given you a most reasonable explanation of why a close alliance between the state and the church is not a panacea. I am guessing that you are a college student, so I am not surprised that you look at things in starkly black and white terms. Here is my not so black-and-white input:

- Quit being scared by the existence of atheist and agnostic teachers. Challenge them; that is one of the reasons why you are getting an education. Faith is not supposed to come or be easy, but it is supposed to be charitable. So, chin up and be brave, OKAY?

- The opposite of church and state working in cahoots is not the unconstitutional rewriting of the US Constitution by the US Supreme Court. The Constitution does not provide for a brick wall; it merely prohibits the US Congress from establishing a state religion.

- If we are to be guided by the Scriptures, we are to tolerate Caesar and not to prop him up or to let him use us for his purposes.

- Romantic notions of a glorious past are hardly ever adequate substitutions for a realistic look at history. History teaches us that, by and large, church-state collusion does not work and corrupts the essence of the Church, that is to be in but not of this world.

- I have long marveled at folks who at the same time bemoan the sinfulness of human nature and somehow expect our Patriarchs and Tsars not to be tainted by human nature.
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« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2011, 05:13:38 PM »

I think that if the population is primarely orthodox then it should be an orthodox state but the church have to be careful when working closely with the government. In my country Denmark church and state are not seperated. This means that in pracise it is the state which is ruling the church. This have led to a number of hightly debated events. for example right now there is a huge debate going on whether or not the church should legalize marriage between homosexuals. Also there have been some talks abvout changing the creed ( the danish lutheran chruch uses the apostolic creed) making it sound more "modern".
Just the fact that the state have the power to change the churchs teachings makes me fearing of the future of Christianity in Denmark. already now most danes are either atheist, agnostics or pagans. This is one of the reasons why I want to be an orthodox christian.

P.S. I am sorry if I have misspelled some words. I need to improve my english Smiley
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« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2011, 05:35:49 PM »

There are going to be problems and corruptions either way, state religion or no.

Nothing is a utopia, not on this side of the Kingdom. I do not advocate a secular society, nor do I believe that the church should be a part of the state (Russia proved this to be a HORRIBLE idea).

However, I do support an Orthodox state, in which the government loves and supports the Church, and in which the Church has a place in serving the state through prayer and service (opening assemblies in prayer, swearing into office, etc.).

And yet, the Church cannot force the government to do anything, and likewise the government cannot force anything upon the Church. The Church should act as it is meant to act...a hospital. Nations are full of sinful people, sick from their passions, which need treatment. We are saved collectively in the Church, and so why shouldn't a majority Orthodox country endorse the Church as the religion of the land? Why not give the Church the platform to instruct, admonish and care for the people of the nation?

It would be silly to contemplate a minority Orthodox nation affirming the Church as the state religion...that would not happen for obvious reasons. But, if the state is majority Orthodox...shouldn't said state recognize the place the Church should have in the life and culture of the state and foster that? I would say so.
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« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2011, 05:42:51 PM »

Quote
t would be silly to contemplate a minority Orthodox nation affirming the Church as the state religion...that would not happen for obvious reasons. But, if the state is majority Orthodox...shouldn't said state recognize the place the Church should have in the life and culture of the state and foster that? I would say so.
But that IS the case already in Greece, the Balkans, Russia and Romania.
The OC has a favoured position, at least de facto, within those states.
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« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2011, 05:50:31 PM »

Quote
t would be silly to contemplate a minority Orthodox nation affirming the Church as the state religion...that would not happen for obvious reasons. But, if the state is majority Orthodox...shouldn't said state recognize the place the Church should have in the life and culture of the state and foster that? I would say so.
But that IS the case already in Greece, the Balkans, Russia and Romania.
The OC has a favoured position, at least de facto, within those states.

Just as does the COE in Great Britain and others throughout Europe.

I am American with a unique perspective. My ethnic group was a small minority within the Hungarian empire. The faith of my ancestors was compromised by the state church in Austria Hungary  and the 'Orthodox' hierarchs who complied with the state's wishes through the imposition of the Unia upon my people. Hence, I look askance at the supposed benevolence or worthwhileness of a 'state' church. My Ukrainian brothers and sisters likely share that point of view given their history as well as do many of Augustin's co-nationals due to the experience of the Unions. My grandfather could have told you people just how well a minority was tolerated where there was a state church. You could ask the descendants of St. Maxim Sandovich how well that worked out in the 20th century prior to the first world war - or the Old Believers for that matter.
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« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2011, 05:52:45 PM »

Quote
t would be silly to contemplate a minority Orthodox nation affirming the Church as the state religion...that would not happen for obvious reasons. But, if the state is majority Orthodox...shouldn't said state recognize the place the Church should have in the life and culture of the state and foster that? I would say so.
But that IS the case already in Greece, the Balkans, Russia and Romania.
The OC has a favoured position, at least de facto, within those states.

That's not quite what I mean.

I'm referring to a current minority Orthodox state deciding to become Orthodox...like the U.S. or Australia. Yeah. Not happening.

In the places you mentioned, Orthodoxy has historically been a strong cultural force in those states and continues to have a large following and impact.
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