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Author Topic: "In Christ" before "conversion" to Orthodoxy?  (Read 1398 times) Average Rating: 0
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Walter Skold
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« on: March 24, 2011, 04:34:40 PM »

I have read many testimonies on various websites of former "Christians" in other ecclesiastic groups, and have close friends who have joined the OC, and one of the things I can't seem to get a clear answer on is this:

For those RC's, Evangelicals, etc. who have been received into the OC, do they consider themselves as having been "In Christ" for those years they sought to serve Jesus Christ and obey his word? Or, where they merely deluded by emotion or the false comfort of false doctrines being adhered to by large groups? So let me ask you "converts": were you or were you not in Christ all those former years when you labored to try and evangelize or give water in the name of Christ?

It seems to me that by force of adhering strictly to Church teaching, converts would have to say they were not in Christ before joining the OC. Maybe this all has to do with one's view of the Non-Orthodox "Christians"? Many people who join the OC spent years serving the Lord (or so they thought?), and once spoke testimonies of how God was working to bring people to salvation. I think of the people who left Campus Crusade for Christ en masse years ago as an example. Do they -- do you -- think of your previous Christian work and witness in vain, because you were not really in Christ? Thank you for your responses.
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 04:47:29 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 05:11:12 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.
I'm not Orthodox yet, but God willing I will be! I know that I can never return to my evangelical charismatic church.

When I was praying last night, I just saw how perfectly everything fell in place. Christ WAS in me, years ago. Probably earlier than my born again experience. He stayed with me and allowed me to meet wonderful people and hopefully be a witness to others, even as I doubted my church and struggled with where I should be.

I wish that I had discovered Orthodoxy earlier, but the way God carried me, guiding me back home this entire time? I believe that I was there in Christ and I hope that I was a testament to his love and sacrifice. I can only hope that his presence will become stronger in my words, thoughts, deeds and actions.

I do sometimes feel a little confused and upset about my evangelical years, but I can't take that back and I hope that many years as an Orthodox Christian will prove that it is THE faith, that it is where I've been meant to be all this time.

I made mistakes that brought me here. I can never be happy to make the mistakes, but I am happy that they brought me here. Does that make sense?
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 05:29:24 PM »

I didn't mean  to give an impression that I would be anything else but Orthodox, just that the spiritual journey of life continues on to the end, to God, and infinitely into God.
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 05:37:01 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.

Well said. It is a widely-known adage:

"The Church knows where the Holy Spirit is, but not where the Holy Spirit is not."

The idea being, God is not limited to any specific method, place, time or form. He is free to work in the lives of Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and even Athiests if He so desires. However, we know that God is in the Orthodox Church, because it is the Church established by Him and maintained by His communion through the Holy Spirit with his Body (the Church). We will say that Christ is alive and active within the walls of Orthodoxy. However, we will not say that Christ does not and cannot be active elsewhere. God does as He pleases.

I will be baptized Palm Sunday. I do not look back at my days as a Protestant and think they were fruitless or in vain. They had varying parts of the Truth (and Truth is a person, Christ Himself), although they lacked the fullness thereof, found only in the Church. Yet, would I be Orthodox without that journey? Very likely not. It molded me and prepared me for coming into Christ's Church, and I learned a great deal from that time of my life. I truly believe God's hand was in it all, guiding me ultimately into Orthodoxy.

Just like the Orthodox Church will not condemn traditional Protestants or Roman Catholics as heretics or apostates, neither will She unilaterally state that there is no grace at all within those communions.
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 05:38:16 PM »

I have read many testimonies on various websites of former "Christians" in other ecclesiastic groups, and have close friends who have joined the OC, and one of the things I can't seem to get a clear answer on is this:

For those RC's, Evangelicals, etc. who have been received into the OC, do they consider themselves as having been "In Christ" for those years they sought to serve Jesus Christ and obey his word? Or, where they merely deluded by emotion or the false comfort of false doctrines being adhered to by large groups? So let me ask you "converts": were you or were you not in Christ all those former years when you labored to try and evangelize or give water in the name of Christ?

It seems to me that by force of adhering strictly to Church teaching, converts would have to say they were not in Christ before joining the OC. Maybe this all has to do with one's view of the Non-Orthodox "Christians"? Many people who join the OC spent years serving the Lord (or so they thought?), and once spoke testimonies of how God was working to bring people to salvation. I think of the people who left Campus Crusade for Christ en masse years ago as an example. Do they -- do you -- think of your previous Christian work and witness in vain, because you were not really in Christ? Thank you for your responses.

It is true, they were not "in Christ" in the full mystical sense that they are once they enter the Church. I doubt it is safe to say that they were not "in Christ" in any sense, but it is safe to say that they were not "in Christ" in the full sense that is in the Church.
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 06:15:28 PM »

Oh, yes, always "in Christ", but now fuller and deeper! Much deeper! It's as if I went from grade school to entering college!  laugh An "upgrade!"
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2011, 06:27:16 PM »

I must point out that I think the difference isn't simply a matter of degree, but actually a matter also of type and category. Those in the Church are "in Christ" in a certain sense that those outside are not at all.
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2011, 06:31:52 PM »

Oh, yes, always "in Christ", but now fuller and deeper! Much deeper! It's as if I went from grade school to entering college!  laugh An "upgrade!"
As I call it, Christianity 2.0! (Or is it 1.0?!)
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2011, 07:02:20 PM »

The clergy at my parish refer to professing Trinitarian Christians from other traditions joining the Church as embracing Orthodoxy, rather than converting to it.

While this may be cute semantics, I think there is some solid logic behind it.  Additionally, I don't think those who claim Orthodox Christianity is the only form of Christianity do Orthodoxy any favors.
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2011, 07:31:59 PM »

Additionally, I don't think those who claim Orthodox Christianity is the only form of Christianity do Orthodoxy any favors.

There is some truth to it if you look at it in a certain way. It is the only form of "Christianity" actually established by and intended by Christ. It is the only form of "Christianity" which worships God in full spirit and truth. It is the only form of "Christianity" which participates in and becomes His Body through Baptism and the Eucharist. It is the only form of "Christianity" which has preserved the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation untainted.
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2011, 07:56:58 PM »

Agreed, but even the examples you gave mention that Orthodoxy is the only form of "Christianity" that _____, rather than the only form of "Christianity."  Plus, some of those are a bit subjective.  Naturally, we're biased towards accepting them though. 

I get your Body of Christ point, but I think it's more applicable when arguing that the Orthodox Church is the Church, rather than the only one that can claim to be Christian.  If applied too rigorously, I think the belief that Orthodoxy is the only form of Christianity comes off similarly to the Evangelicals I've heard asking "are you Christian or Catholic?" 

I'm not implying that all forms of Christianity are as full, correct, or true as Orthodoxy, but I think someone who claims that everyone who is not Orthodox is not Christian probably is, at the very best, not going to bring a lot of people to Orthodoxy.  It seems that those professing the Nicene/Constantinopolitan Creed are usually given the benefit of the doubt. 
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2011, 10:34:30 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.

Well said. It is a widely-known adage:

"The Church knows where the Holy Spirit is, but not where the Holy Spirit is not."

The idea being, God is not limited to any specific method, place, time or form. He is free to work in the lives of Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and even Athiests if He so desires. However, we know that God is in the Orthodox Church, because it is the Church established by Him and maintained by His communion through the Holy Spirit with his Body (the Church). We will say that Christ is alive and active within the walls of Orthodoxy. However, we will not say that Christ does not and cannot be active elsewhere. God does as He pleases.

I will be baptized Palm Sunday. I do not look back at my days as a Protestant and think they were fruitless or in vain. They had varying parts of the Truth (and Truth is a person, Christ Himself), although they lacked the fullness thereof, found only in the Church. Yet, would I be Orthodox without that journey? Very likely not. It molded me and prepared me for coming into Christ's Church, and I learned a great deal from that time of my life. I truly believe God's hand was in it all, guiding me ultimately into Orthodoxy.

Just like the Orthodox Church will not condemn traditional Protestants or Roman Catholics as heretics or apostates, neither will She unilaterally state that there is no grace at all within those communions.

Another strong post Benjamin. God willing, we will be possibly dunked together on the same day or at least Chrismated. The validity of my baptism is still up in the air.
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2011, 04:10:39 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.

Well said. It is a widely-known adage:

"The Church knows where the Holy Spirit is, but not where the Holy Spirit is not."

The idea being, God is not limited to any specific method, place, time or form. He is free to work in the lives of Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and even Athiests if He so desires. However, we know that God is in the Orthodox Church, because it is the Church established by Him and maintained by His communion through the Holy Spirit with his Body (the Church). We will say that Christ is alive and active within the walls of Orthodoxy. However, we will not say that Christ does not and cannot be active elsewhere. God does as He pleases.

I will be baptized Palm Sunday. I do not look back at my days as a Protestant and think they were fruitless or in vain. They had varying parts of the Truth (and Truth is a person, Christ Himself), although they lacked the fullness thereof, found only in the Church. Yet, would I be Orthodox without that journey? Very likely not. It molded me and prepared me for coming into Christ's Church, and I learned a great deal from that time of my life. I truly believe God's hand was in it all, guiding me ultimately into Orthodoxy.

Just like the Orthodox Church will not condemn traditional Protestants or Roman Catholics as heretics or apostates, neither will She unilaterally state that there is no grace at all within those communions.

Another strong post Benjamin. God willing, we will be possibly dunked together on the same day or at least Chrismated. The validity of my baptism is still up in the air.

Thank you. I am most definitely going to be dunked. If asked, I would encourage any convert to Orthodoxy with the "option" of baptism vs. only chrismation...be baptized. I was baptized at age eight in a Baptist church. It was trinitarian, and I truly believe something did occur there. Yet, I look forward to a fully Orthodox baptism in the Church. I feel like, if I sought actively to have my previous baptism recognized and succeeded, I would later kick myself for not having a baptism in the Church.

I'm in a very evangelical (in the original sense of the word), convert-majority parish. In my two years there, I've witnessed probably near 15 baptisms (some of infants, some of converts). It's a beauitful service, and I look very much forward to partaking of that awesome mystery.
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2011, 04:41:32 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.

Well said. It is a widely-known adage:

"The Church knows where the Holy Spirit is, but not where the Holy Spirit is not."

The idea being, God is not limited to any specific method, place, time or form. He is free to work in the lives of Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and even Athiests if He so desires. However, we know that God is in the Orthodox Church, because it is the Church established by Him and maintained by His communion through the Holy Spirit with his Body (the Church). We will say that Christ is alive and active within the walls of Orthodoxy. However, we will not say that Christ does not and cannot be active elsewhere. God does as He pleases.

I will be baptized Palm Sunday. I do not look back at my days as a Protestant and think they were fruitless or in vain. They had varying parts of the Truth (and Truth is a person, Christ Himself), although they lacked the fullness thereof, found only in the Church. Yet, would I be Orthodox without that journey? Very likely not. It molded me and prepared me for coming into Christ's Church, and I learned a great deal from that time of my life. I truly believe God's hand was in it all, guiding me ultimately into Orthodoxy.

Just like the Orthodox Church will not condemn traditional Protestants or Roman Catholics as heretics or apostates, neither will She unilaterally state that there is no grace at all within those communions.

Another strong post Benjamin. God willing, we will be possibly dunked together on the same day or at least Chrismated. The validity of my baptism is still up in the air.

Thank you. I am most definitely going to be dunked. If asked, I would encourage any convert to Orthodoxy with the "option" of baptism vs. only chrismation...be baptized. I was baptized at age eight in a Baptist church. It was trinitarian, and I truly believe something did occur there. Yet, I look forward to a fully Orthodox baptism in the Church. I feel like, if I sought actively to have my previous baptism recognized and succeeded, I would later kick myself for not having a baptism in the Church.

I'm in a very evangelical (in the original sense of the word), convert-majority parish. In my two years there, I've witnessed probably near 15 baptisms (some of infants, some of converts). It's a beauitful service, and I look very much forward to partaking of that awesome mystery.

It's a matter of how the Bishop decides to parse the Creed.
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« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2011, 04:44:44 PM »

I don't think about it as being "in vain." It's part of my spiritual journey, and becoming Orthodox is not the end of that journey.

Well said. It is a widely-known adage:

"The Church knows where the Holy Spirit is, but not where the Holy Spirit is not."

The idea being, God is not limited to any specific method, place, time or form. He is free to work in the lives of Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and even Athiests if He so desires. However, we know that God is in the Orthodox Church, because it is the Church established by Him and maintained by His communion through the Holy Spirit with his Body (the Church). We will say that Christ is alive and active within the walls of Orthodoxy. However, we will not say that Christ does not and cannot be active elsewhere. God does as He pleases.

I will be baptized Palm Sunday. I do not look back at my days as a Protestant and think they were fruitless or in vain. They had varying parts of the Truth (and Truth is a person, Christ Himself), although they lacked the fullness thereof, found only in the Church. Yet, would I be Orthodox without that journey? Very likely not. It molded me and prepared me for coming into Christ's Church, and I learned a great deal from that time of my life. I truly believe God's hand was in it all, guiding me ultimately into Orthodoxy.

Just like the Orthodox Church will not condemn traditional Protestants or Roman Catholics as heretics or apostates, neither will She unilaterally state that there is no grace at all within those communions.

Another strong post Benjamin. God willing, we will be possibly dunked together on the same day or at least Chrismated. The validity of my baptism is still up in the air.

Thank you. I am most definitely going to be dunked. If asked, I would encourage any convert to Orthodoxy with the "option" of baptism vs. only chrismation...be baptized. I was baptized at age eight in a Baptist church. It was trinitarian, and I truly believe something did occur there. Yet, I look forward to a fully Orthodox baptism in the Church. I feel like, if I sought actively to have my previous baptism recognized and succeeded, I would later kick myself for not having a baptism in the Church.

I'm in a very evangelical (in the original sense of the word), convert-majority parish. In my two years there, I've witnessed probably near 15 baptisms (some of infants, some of converts). It's a beauitful service, and I look very much forward to partaking of that awesome mystery.

It's a matter of how the Bishop decides to parse the Creed.

Really?? Interesting...
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2011, 05:00:58 PM »

wow, it's amazing how everyone uses words like deeper and fuller to explain the difference between orthodoxy and other Christian beliefs. it's really true. i have been orthodox for 2 years, having believed in God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the renewing work of the Holy Spirit for most of my life before that.
it is really something so deep, so wonderful. there was literally nothing like my first orthodox Holy Communion, although one or two things i experienced before that were like a foretaste of it.

i only have a few orthodox convert friends, this is why i come on orthodox websites to hear about others' experiences and opinions. it's something i can't adequately explain to my friends who are from other Christian groups, and even my orthodox friends don't really understand it, although i think my priest has some idea.

so, i would suggest to anyone not orthodox who is wondering what we are all failing to describe in any coherent sense to pray to God and ask Him to guide you on your spiritual journey. study the Bible. read writings of people like saint polycarp, saint basil the great, saint john chrysostom etc who are early Christian writers who wrote about how the early Christians understood the Bible and how it changed their life. go to an orthodox church. keep searching until you get answers and try to ignore anyone who does not make you welcome. fast and pray. keep searching. once you have found what you are looking for, believe me, you will know!

and may God guide us all into all Truth.  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2011, 11:14:34 PM »

I grew up and was a devout roman Catholic and I truly experienced God in the people I met and in the sacraments I recieved...But nothing to the extent of what I have experienced within THE CHURCH which is of course the Orthodox one! Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2011, 11:27:45 PM »

I was taught that the fullness of the faith is found in the Orthodox Church.

As a Roman Catholic, I was a Christian, just not a Christian in communion with the True Church.

Praise the Lord, I am home now in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2011, 11:33:57 PM »

As far as I understand, the term "In Christ" amounts to believing in and accepting Christ as one's saviour; then committing oneself to following Him in the only way that one might know of. If that is correct, surely anyone who was committed to Christ in such a way before becoming Orthodox, following Him to the best of their abilities, was "In Christ".
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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2011, 12:15:52 AM »

All of creation is "in Christ":

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

The breath of life in every human comes from Christ. It's just how much we attune ourselves to that reality or reject it.
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