OrthodoxChristianity.net
September 01, 2014, 04:13:11 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Should I become Orthodox?  (Read 883 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
melkite
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Melkite Catholic Church
Posts: 25



« on: March 26, 2011, 01:06:52 AM »

No one word answers, please  Grin

So, I've been thinking recently about becoming Orthodox.

A little about me first.  I am a convert to Catholicism from nominal Anglicanism.  I converted when I was 17 (I'm 30 now), but became interested in Orthodoxy when I was in college.  I went with a friend to an Antiochian church for about a year, and the next year I studied in Moscow.  I became a catechumen at the OCA parish there, but a few weeks before I was supposed to be chrismated the issue of the papacy kept coming back into my mind, so I decided not to go through with it.  I had intended to be a member of the Antiochian parish I was going to when I came back from Moscow, but I was so in love with Byzantine Christianity that I couldn't go back to the Roman rite, even though I was determined to stay Catholic.  I found the closest Melkite parish, which is unfortunately over an hour from where I live, but I still decided to join this parish and go there every week.  I transfered from the Latin church to the Melkite when I was 25.  This parish has really been a blessing, since it is not the run of the mill Eastern Catholic parish where it looks like an Orthodox/Latin hybrid.  If it weren't for the commemoration of the Pope during the liturgy, you wouldn't know this parish wasn't Orthodox.  We even have Orthodox visit us and tell us we are more Orthodox than the Orthodox.

Recently, though, I was listening to Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy on Ancient Faith Radio, and something bugged me about the filioque.  I'm not much of a philosopher, but the filioque is one of those issues that just doesn't sit right with me, but I've tried to ignore it and pass it off as over my head.  So, there are a lot of things that make me want to be Orthodox, but there are some that hold me back, and I was wondering if anyone could help me out with these, especially former Catholics.  Please, if anything I say sounds as if I'm trying to antagonize the Orthodox, that's not my intent.  Any apparent antagonism is just my frustration at not being sure which one is right and the discomfort of that uncertainty, it is not directed at the Orthodox personally.

So, I'm just gonna list of some things that cause me to hesitate when my heart says "The Church is Orthodox!"

The Orthodox don't really have an effective magisterium.  Without an ecumenical council, the Orthodox don't have the capacity to condemn doctrines that the Catholic Church has formalized after the Schism.  So even if you can say theologically it is wrong, it seems like you have no capacity to canonically condemn it.

Th Orthodox can't tell me whether I'm really baptized or not.  If I were to join an Antiochian parish, I would be received by chrismation.  If I were to join a ROCOR parish, I would be re-baptized.  So, these two churches, now, are in communion with eachother.  If I went to a ROCOR parish as a convert to the Antiochian Orthodox, and presented myself for communion, from the ROCOR perspective, wouldn't I be truly Orthodox and truly un-baptized at the same time?  If it is an issue of my Antiochian chrismation would complete anything my Catholic baptism was lacking, why wouldn't the ROCOR just chrismate me instead?

This issue doesn't exist anymore, but it could again.  The fact that it did is what is troublesome.  Prior to the reestablishment of communion between ROCOR and Moscow, some Orthodox jurisdictions were in communion with ROCOR and others not, while they were in communion with eachother.  So, ROCOR wasn't in communion with Moscow, but it was in communion with Serbia and Jerusalem, and Serbia and Jerusalem were in communion with Moscow.  So, how can A, B and C be considered one body, when A is in communion with B, and B with C, but A is not in communion with C?

Divorce and remarriage.  I'm not a fan of the annullment system, but allowing remarriage when you acknowledge a previous marriage existed seems like Church sanctioned adultery.  The Orthodox use the part in the Bible where Jesus said that if a person gets divorced, except for unfaithfulness, they cause the other spouse to commit adultery, and use this as proof that remarriage is ok.  But, Jesus said for unfaithfulness divorce was ok, he never said anything about remarriage being ok.  And it seems completely arbitrary to only allow 3 marriages.  You'll allow a 2nd and 3rd marriage for a person's weakness, but not a 4th, 5th or 6th?  What if the remarriages each took place after the previous spouse died?  Would a 4th still be refused even if spouses 1-3 were already dead?  If you make exceptions for weakness towards one sexual sin, why not for others?

Contraception.  50 years ago, the entire Christian world thought it was sinful.  And now some Orthodox bishops say it is ok.  Some don't.  Besides no longer having a uniform position on this, how can the Orthodox claim to preserve the practices of the Apostolic Church when they have clearly caved on this?

The papacy.  I'm not particularly attached to papal infallibility or supremacy.  They could stand or fall, and neither would be a stumbling block to my faith.  But when you read things from some of the Fathers, St. Maximos the Confessor, for example, it sounds like he didn't leave any room for discussion: if you're not in communion with the bishop of Rome, you're NOT in the Church.  I know this view was not across the board in the 1st 1000 years, but to say it was non-existant is not historically accurate either.  I've read a lot of Orthodox say that the Pope can't be head of the Church because Jesus is the head.  It sounds real nice, but I could say that a church doesn't need a Patriarch, a diocese doesn't need a bishop, a parish doesn't need a priest as head, because Jesus is the only head.  I think the issues like there was between ROCOR and the other jurisdictions, or one bishop saying one thing and another saying another on crucial moral issues like contraception, are a symptom of there not being one visible head in the Orthodox church.  Don't get me wrong, I like the idea that Jesus is the only head of the Church, but if he is, why doesn't the Orthodox have a united voice on these issues?  Shouldn't one visible body have one visible head?

Ecumenical councils.  The Orthodox say a council is only ecumenical if the whole Church accepts it.  Well, the non-Chalcedonians were part of the Church before Chalcedon, the Nestorians were part of the Church before Ephesus, so the whole Church didn't accept these councils.  By the Orthodox definition of what makes a council ecumenical, these councils should not be considered ecumenical, and yet they are.  The only answer I have ever gotten from the Orthodox before on this is that it is a mystery.

This one is entirely subjective on my part.  When I go into an Orthodox church for liturgy, something feels missing.  When I go to my parish, it feels complete.  I attribute it to my church being in communion with Rome, but that's just my assumption, I don't know if that is what is really causing that feeling.  But then again, when it comes to doctrine, I guess I'm not feeling all that complete where I am, or I wouldn't be recurringly drawing towards Orthodoxy.  But still, when the doctrine is not on my mind, something feels complete in the liturgy at my church where it feels empty in Orthodox churches.  I don't know how to explain that.

Ok, thems my thoughts, I really hope I didn't offend anyone.  Can anyone offer any advice?
Logged
John of the North
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christianity
Jurisdiction: Eparchy of Edmonton and the West
Posts: 3,533


Christ is Risen!

tgild
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 03:00:11 AM »

Ok, thems my thoughts, I really hope I didn't offend anyone.  Can anyone offer any advice?

Stop thinking with your head so much and start thinking with your heart. Smiley
Logged

"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)
mike
Stratopedarches
**************
Offline Offline

Posts: 21,467


WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 07:52:58 AM »

The Orthodox don't really have an effective magisterium.  Without an ecumenical council, the Orthodox don't have the capacity to condemn doctrines that the Catholic Church has formalized after the Schism.  So even if you can say theologically it is wrong, it seems like you have no capacity to canonically condemn it.

We don't have to have papers to confirm everything.

Quote
Th Orthodox can't tell me whether I'm really baptized or not.  If I were to join an Antiochian parish, I would be received by chrismation.  If I were to join a ROCOR parish, I would be re-baptized.  So, these two churches, now, are in communion with eachother.  If I went to a ROCOR parish as a convert to the Antiochian Orthodox, and presented myself for communion, from the ROCOR perspective, wouldn't I be truly Orthodox and truly un-baptized at the same time?  If it is an issue of my Antiochian chrismation would complete anything my Catholic baptism was lacking, why wouldn't the ROCOR just chrismate me instead?

While having the different ways of receiving the ROCOR Church would consider you as an Orthodox after your conversion in the Antiochian Parish (no matter in which way).

Quote
This issue doesn't exist anymore, but it could again.  The fact that it did is what is troublesome.  Prior to the reestablishment of communion between ROCOR and Moscow, some Orthodox jurisdictions were in communion with ROCOR and others not, while they were in communion with eachother.  So, ROCOR wasn't in communion with Moscow, but it was in communion with Serbia and Jerusalem, and Serbia and Jerusalem were in communion with Moscow.  So, how can A, B and C be considered one body, when A is in communion with B, and B with C, but A is not in communion with C?

SSPX?

Quote
Besides no longer having a uniform position on this, how can the Orthodox claim to preserve the practices of the Apostolic Church when they have clearly caved on this?

What was the teaching of the 'Apostolic  Church' on abortion? Any proofs?

Quote
The papacy.  I'm not particularly attached to papal infallibility or supremacy.  They could stand or fall, and neither would be a stumbling block to my faith.  But when you read things from some of the Fathers, St. Maximos the Confessor, for example, it sounds like he didn't leave any room for discussion: if you're not in communion with the bishop of Rome, you're NOT in the Church.  I know this view was not across the board in the 1st 1000 years, but to say it was non-existant is not historically accurate either.  I've read a lot of Orthodox say that the Pope can't be head of the Church because Jesus is the head.  It sounds real nice, but I could say that a church doesn't need a Patriarch, a diocese doesn't need a bishop, a parish doesn't need a priest as head, because Jesus is the only head.  I think the issues like there was between ROCOR and the other jurisdictions, or one bishop saying one thing and another saying another on crucial moral issues like contraception, are a symptom of there not being one visible head in the Orthodox church.  Don't get me wrong, I like the idea that Jesus is the only head of the Church, but if he is, why doesn't the Orthodox have a united voice on these issues?  Shouldn't one visible body have one visible head?

Too much power in one man's hands isn't a good idea. Why Rome is so special?
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 07:53:17 AM by Michał Kalina » Logged

Byzantinism
no longer posting here
Iconodule
Uranopolitan
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA (Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania)
Posts: 6,934


"My god is greater."


« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 08:37:34 AM »

If we want to talk about disunity, then surely the existence of the Melkite church within the Catholic communion is a case in point. Melkites routinely deny or flout RC dogmas like Papal infallibility and the synod approved a declaration saying "We believe everything Eastern Orthodoxy teaches." You would never find such dogmatic disunity in the Orthodox Church.

To answer your thread title: YES.
Logged

"A riddle or the cricket's cry
Is to doubt a fit reply." - William Blake

Quote from: Byron
Just ignore iconotools delusions. He is the biggest multiculturalist globalist there is due to his unfortunate background.
AMM
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Jurisdiction: ACROD
Posts: 2,076


« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 10:11:23 AM »

Bloom where you're planted.
Logged
IsmiLiora
Chronic Exaggerator
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: One step closer!
Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA)
Posts: 3,434


Back by unpopular demand.


« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 12:14:46 PM »

As a former RC, the filioque was the first thing that made me start to doubt. I remember thinking "Why??" when I discovered that years ago.

For you, why not meditate on the issue? Pray about it. Attend services. What's the rush? It will take you a long time to become a member of the Orthodox church anyway. You need to make sure that it is the right church for you, and I think that at some point you need to make it less of an academic search and one that involves your heart. Do you feel like it is the right church or not? (I'm not saying to discard reading, but I know how much it can intrude on my prayer life.)

I will leave the Orthodox members to answer your other questions because I'm still researching some of those as well, and I don't have too much authority on the topic.
Logged

She's touring the facility/and picking up slack.
--
"For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." Ecclesiastes 1:18
--
I once believed in causes too, I had my pointless point of view --
Life went on no matter who was wrong or right
ialmisry
There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
Warned
Hypatos
*****************
Offline Offline

Faith: جامعي Arab confesssing the Orthodox Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
Jurisdiction: Antioch (for now), but my heart belongs to Alexandria
Posts: 37,481



« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 12:47:10 PM »

Bloom where you're planted.
Be planted in good soil.
Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
Seraphim98
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 562



« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2011, 01:29:42 PM »

Quote
The Orthodox don't really have an effective magisterium.  Without an ecumenical council, the Orthodox don't have the capacity to condemn doctrines that the Catholic Church has formalized after the Schism.  So even if you can say theologically it is wrong, it seems like you have no capacity to canonically condemn it.

Not so. We have had at least two or three councils that I'm aware of that while not ecumenical councils in the pre schism sense have condemned heresies and whose canons are acknowledged as binding upon the faithful. It is not the "level" of a council that make's canons binding, but its concord with the Holy Spirit. Also consider that Rome has called several of its councils following the schism to be ecumenical councils, a number of the canons of which the Orthodox with or without a council local or ecumenical identify as heretical. Consider the idea of Papal infallibility…heresy or not? Was it approved by an ecumenical council according to Roman lights?  So…there you go. What is the value of an exalted "legal" label if it's content is empty or defective?

Quote
The Orthodox can't tell me whether I'm really baptized or not.  If I were to join an Antiochian parish, I would be received by chrismation.  If I were to join a ROCOR parish, I would be re-baptized.  So, these two churches, now, are in communion with eachother.  If I went to a ROCOR parish as a convert to the Antiochian Orthodox, and presented myself for communion, from the ROCOR perspective, wouldn't I be truly Orthodox and truly un-baptized at the same time?  If it is an issue of my Antiochian chrismation would complete anything my Catholic baptism was lacking, why wouldn't the ROCOR just chrismate me instead?

Oh but they can and do. In either circumstance, chrismation or rebatism they are telling you whatever was done for you in the RCC by Orthodox standards was not complete, not adequate. Some bishops prefer a clean unambiguous beginning, hence the standard practice of rebaptism for their dioceses and jurisdictions.  For others, if they feel the catechumen's have a good understanding of the basics of the faith and are satisfied with the Trinitarian form of the prior baptism will exercise an economy (a mercy/relaxation of strictness) and receive a catechumen by chrismation.  

Quote
This issue doesn't exist anymore, but it could again.  The fact that it did is what is troublesome.  Prior to the reestablishment of communion between ROCOR and Moscow, some Orthodox jurisdictions were in communion with ROCOR and others not, while they were in communion with eachother.  So, ROCOR wasn't in communion with Moscow, but it was in communion with Serbia and Jerusalem, and Serbia and Jerusalem were in communion with Moscow.  So, how can A, B and C be considered one body, when A is in communion with B, and B with C, but A is not in communion with C?

Take a closer look at church history. This kind of thing in one form or another…where winds of temporal politics and social upheavals create ripples in the life of the Church….they've been going on a long time. But notice eventually, generally sooner than later, the ripples calm.  You've got to have a more glacial sense of time with respect to the church and not that of a mayfly.

Quote
Divorce and remarriage.  I'm not a fan of the annullment system, but allowing remarriage when you acknowledge a previous marriage existed seems like Church sanctioned adultery.  The Orthodox use the part in the Bible where Jesus said that if a person gets divorced, except for unfaithfulness, they cause the other spouse to commit adultery, and use this as proof that remarriage is ok.  But, Jesus said for unfaithfulness divorce was ok, he never said anything about remarriage being ok.  And it seems completely arbitrary to only allow 3 marriages.  You'll allow a 2nd and 3rd marriage for a person's weakness, but not a 4th, 5th or 6th?  What if the remarriages each took place after the previous spouse died?  Would a 4th still be refused even if spouses 1-3 were already dead?  If you make exceptions for weakness towards one sexual sin, why not for others?

Did Jesus say that those who had been divorced and then married again to "fix" the situation by divorcing once more?  God will condescend to our weakness without excusing our weakness as weakness.  As for the third marriage limit I don't know there answer to where that particular number came from, but it has been long established in the Church. Maybe it is arbitrary, but it is not insanely open ended either. Consider that in Orthodoxy these matters are dealt with as medicinally, not so much juridically.  It is not a question of breaking a "rule", three marriages maximum, but a question what damage to the soul does multiple marriages do, and how much is the Church willing to tolerate before it says, for the sake of your soul, no more, no more…and because it is medicine, though I don't know in this particular for certain (a priest might), in some unusual circumstance a bishop might feel in a given instance for the good of a soul the limit might be exceeded.  And even in cases where the limit has been exceeded, that doesn't mean those involved are forever excluded from the Church. They can be reconciled even if their marriage as such cannot be blessed.

Quote
Contraception.  50 years ago, the entire Christian world thought it was sinful.  And now some Orthodox bishops say it is ok.  Some don't.  Besides no longer having a uniform position on this, how can the Orthodox claim to preserve the practices of the Apostolic Church when they have clearly caved on this?

As I recall the pope recently said in certain circumstances like HIV contraceptive protection could be permitted if its usage issued from a desire to decrease risk of often deadly infection and not a disdain for procreation.  You must also realize that the Orthodox view on marrital intimacy is not strictly procreative. The Church understands other purposes in sexual encounter between husband and wife than procreation. Certain types of contraception are not inimical to that.  That said, I think most Bishops would agree, whatever the other purposes, the sexual act should open to creating new life.  That said, a uniform position on this is not an article of the faith. It's basically a question of moral interpretation.  Now, if you are talking about abortion, that is a different story…precautions in conceiving new life and destroying new life are entirely different. The Orthodox position on abortion is that it is an unmitigated evil and that it is contrary to the Christian faith.

Quote
The papacy.  I'm not particularly attached to papal infallibility or supremacy.  They could stand or fall, and neither would be a stumbling block to my faith.  But when you read things from some of the Fathers, St. Maximos the Confessor, for example, it sounds like he didn't leave any room for discussion: if you're not in communion with the bishop of Rome, you're NOT in the Church.  I know this view was not across the board in the 1st 1000 years, but to say it was non-existant is not historically accurate either.  I've read a lot of Orthodox say that the Pope can't be head of the Church because Jesus is the head.  It sounds real nice, but I could say that a church doesn't need a Patriarch, a diocese doesn't need a bishop, a parish doesn't need a priest as head, because Jesus is the only head.  I think the issues like there was between ROCOR and the other jurisdictions, or one bishop saying one thing and another saying another on crucial moral issues like contraception, are a symptom of there not being one visible head in the Orthodox church.  Don't get me wrong, I like the idea that Jesus is the only head of the Church, but if he is, why doesn't the Orthodox have a united voice on these issues?  Shouldn't one visible body have one visible head?

With respect to St. Maximos, consider the time.  His statements regard Rome are contingent upon that time.  What was the state of Orthodoxy then.  It was under siege in the East among the hierarchy but in Rome there was a faithful champion. Has this case been necessarily true at all times prior or since?  

As for the objection about the someone being the "head" of the Church instead of Jesus, you may have heard a not quite terminologically correct expression of the idea.  The problem, as I understand it, is regarding the Pope as the "Vicar" of Christ. This is contrary to Orthodox theology. We cannot say the Church has no need of bishops, etc. because Christ is the head of the Church. He is, but that headship finds its iconic expression in the Church through its hierarchical organs. What does St. Ignatius the Holy Martyr say about the role of the Bishop and the clergy?  This must be true of every Orthodox bishop. If only one Bishop in the world is the touchstone and font of the faith for the faithful, then the whole of the episcopacy is subverted. There remains only one bishop, the pope, and all the rest are reduced to the status of suffragins, administrative deputies and not true bishops in their own right. The local church as the full expression of the faith and economy of grace is destroyed in favor of the universal.  This cannot be.  

In the meantime we have to deal with human weakness, even among bishops. If there is so issue about which there is significant difference that touches upon the faith, then that is why we have councils. We have never, not even in Apostolic times looked to one infallible leader's voice, but rather understood that in council we may most clearly discern, as a Church, the voice and will of the Holy Spirit in the governance and teaching of the Church.  The pattern is simple: the council deliberates its examination of the Tradition, issues its decision of the matter at hand and that news is delivered unto the faithful.  If those decrees/canons are met with joy, if they restore peace to the Church in a reasonable amount of time, then we know, the Spirit has spoken and those conciliar canons are binding on all Orthodox Christians.  If peace is not restored and the conflict continues, or even escalates, we know that either the council was a false council, defending a heresy, or one whose work was incomplete and not yet done.  We may look at the 7th council as an example of this.  The iconoclastic controversy lasted over 150 years.  The iconoclastic bishops tried to conceive a council to settle the matter definitively for the whole church…their words settled nothing, the controversy raged on for years and years, until a new council was called that defended the icons and reaffirmed the Orthodox faith. The matter was then settled. The people accepted the ruling and canons, and to this day the whole Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Orthodoxy in commemoration of this triumph of the faith over the iconoclastic heresy.  Or as the Scriptures say, "deep calls to deep"  Councils and the laity exhibit a concord about the truth of the faith because the Holy Spirit in both answer to and affirm that truth. If the council's decisions do not resonate with the rest of the Church…then the council is off, not concord with the Spirit, and is disregarded.

Quote
Ecumenical councils.  The Orthodox say a council is only ecumenical if the whole Church accepts it.  Well, the non-Chalcedonians were part of the Church before Chalcedon, the Nestorians were part of the Church before Ephesus, so the whole Church didn't accept these councils.  By the Orthodox definition of what makes a council ecumenical, these councils should not be considered ecumenical, and yet they are.  The only answer I have ever gotten from the Orthodox before on this is that it is a mystery.

See above.  For the councils you mention…consider the first one in which the heresy of Judizing was condemned. Prior to that council were the Judizers considered within the formal boundaries of the Church? Yes, I do believe.  What about after if they did not repent of the error?  Did all Judizer's repent?  What of those who did not?

With respect to Chalcedon, this is something of a special case in a couple of respects.  First not all the local Churches got to participate in it.  A number of the Syrian Churches I believe, due to historical difficulties at the time could not attend. They neither approved it or approved it, though in later years they have tended to identify themselves more with the nonchalcedonians who rejected it.  With respect to the Coptic churches the issues get more complicated.  They rejected what they considered to be dangerously Nestorian leaning Christological language in favor of older Christological statements, while some of them advocated a stance Orthodoxy rejected called monophysitim…sort of a heresy in the other direction.  Within about 50 years the Orthodox had a supplemental council that address the interpretive issues in the language of Chalcedon to hedge against any Nestorian interpretation. To complicate matters, Egypt was feeling its national legs again, and acceptance Chalcedon become something of a shibboleth for both sides. The Emperor sent in his legions and it got very ugly, very brutal in the most unchristian of ways.  The die was cast, the Orthodox regard the Copts as falling into the heresy of Monophysitism.  The Copts say they reject monphysitim but accept the Christological understanding called miaphysitism.  That point aside though, even with respect to the faith issues that arose in following centuries, whatever Orthodoxy has affirmed in its councils, the Copts have affirmed without the need of a council.  And if you look further into Ethiopia you make another discovery that provides another way look upon the nonchalcedonian experience.  Basically, what you encounter is a kind of situation fossilization from before the times of Chalcedon.  That is to say, you can find absolutely Orthodox priests and bishops theologically speaking, and then find in another place those who teach ideas condemned later in Orthodoxy as heretical…ideas like monothelitism, or even variations on Apollinarianism.  For these Christians, these issues remain without authoritative definition within the Church, and absent that they tolerate these variances within their ecclesial body, even if the more Orthodox don't always like it.

That said, it should be noted with respect to the faith the issues surrounding Chalcedon both theologically, and historically are given place in Orthodox practice. We recognize the human difficulties in sorting it all out.  So if one of the Coptic faith wishes to become Orthodox, by canon there is no rebaptism, no chrismation, but rather acceptance based on a simple Orthodox confession of the faith.  

Quote
This one is entirely subjective on my part.  When I go into an Orthodox church for liturgy, something feels missing.  When I go to my parish, it feels complete.  I attribute it to my church being in communion with Rome, but that's just my assumption, I don't know if that is what is really causing that feeling.  But then again, when it comes to doctrine, I guess I'm not feeling all that complete where I am, or I wouldn't be recurringly drawing towards Orthodoxy.  But still, when the doctrine is not on my mind, something feels complete in the liturgy at my church where it feels empty in Orthodox churches.  I don't know how to explain that.

Maybe it's largely a question of familiarity…what is known and comfortable.  Maybe, there is an issue in the available Orthodox parishes that would not be present in an Orthodox parish elsewhere.  It might be worth an experimental visit.  Pick a well regarded Orthodox parish somewhere else in the nation (maybe even a monastery) and visit there.  I can't say our feelings aren't important and that we should pay them no attention, but then we should be cautious of both being guided by feelings or reacting too quickly to them before we've had opportunity to examine from whence they derive.  

I know for myself…my last, "I'm not sure what I am missing" feeling dissolved the moment I heard the Valaam Brotherhood Choir singing Xristos Anesthi.  From that moment on I knew I was leaving nothing behind that have so much riches laid out in it's place…but that's me, and I was coming from a Protestant Tradition to Orthodoxy, the gulf between where I was and where I was headed was pretty stark in most respects.

« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 01:38:30 PM by Seraphim98 » Logged
melkite
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Melkite Catholic Church
Posts: 25



« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2011, 10:28:42 PM »

Quote
Oh but they can and do. In either circumstance, chrismation or rebatism they are telling you whatever was done for you in the RCC by Orthodox standards was not complete, not adequate. Some bishops prefer a clean unambiguous beginning, hence the standard practice of rebaptism for their dioceses and jurisdictions.  For others, if they feel the catechumen's have a good understanding of the basics of the faith and are satisfied with the Trinitarian form of the prior baptism will exercise an economy (a mercy/relaxation of strictness) and receive a catechumen by chrismation.

So, are you saying that some ROCOR bishops will bring Catholics in by chrismation, and some by rebaptism, and the same with the Antiochian church?  If so, that's interesting.  I wasn't aware of that.  Don't Orthodox believe that baptism is necessary for one to be joined to the Church?  If so, what is the reasoning for relaxing strictness on baptism if you don't believe a heterodox baptism to be complete?  I mean, if the Orthodox Church is the true Church, and baptism is the only way one can become a member, and any non-Orthodox baptism was incomplete, wouldn't it make more sense for re-baptism to be the norm?

Quote
Did Jesus say that those who had been divorced and then married again to "fix" the situation by divorcing once more?  God will condescend to our weakness without excusing our weakness as weakness.  As for the third marriage limit I don't know there answer to where that particular number came from, but it has been long established in the Church. Maybe it is arbitrary, but it is not insanely open ended either. Consider that in Orthodoxy these matters are dealt with as medicinally, not so much juridically.  It is not a question of breaking a "rule", three marriages maximum, but a question what damage to the soul does multiple marriages do, and how much is the Church willing to tolerate before it says, for the sake of your soul, no more, no more…and because it is medicine, though I don't know in this particular for certain (a priest might), in some unusual circumstance a bishop might feel in a given instance for the good of a soul the limit might be exceeded.  And even in cases where the limit has been exceeded, that doesn't mean those involved are forever excluded from the Church. They can be reconciled even if their marriage as such cannot be blessed.

Can you explain God condescending to our weakness more?  Why does adultery get special treatment?  If it is medicinal, and remarriage is adultery, at least for argument's sake, wouldn't it be doing more harm to a person's soul to allow them to engage in adultery, then it would to firmly tell them no?  What of any other sin?  Why isn't there economia in terms of fornication, pornography, homosexuality, etc?  I certainly don't mean to trivialize the issue.  As hard as it must be to come to the conclusion that your marriage didn't work for whatever reason, and knowing that that doesn't automatically make someone suited to celibacy, I don't see how allowing someone to commit adultery is better for their soul than having to struggle with a celibacy that doesn't come naturally to oneself.

Quote
As I recall the pope recently said in certain circumstances like HIV contraceptive protection could be permitted if its usage issued from a desire to decrease risk of often deadly infection and not a disdain for procreation.  You must also realize that the Orthodox view on marrital intimacy is not strictly procreative. The Church understands other purposes in sexual encounter between husband and wife than procreation. Certain types of contraception are not inimical to that.  That said, I think most Bishops would agree, whatever the other purposes, the sexual act should open to creating new life.  That said, a uniform position on this is not an article of the faith. It's basically a question of moral interpretation.  Now, if you are talking about abortion, that is a different story…precautions in conceiving new life and destroying new life are entirely different. The Orthodox position on abortion is that it is an unmitigated evil and that it is contrary to the Christian faith.

What the Pope said is a little more complicated than that.  What he said was, if someone is already living a sinful lifestyle that is not in conformity with Church teaching, it can be ok in a sense for that person to use contraception as a means of protecting oneself from disease.  So, for example, if two people are having sex outside of marriage, they are already taking sex out of its context as God intended it.  So, in a sense of already being in a state of serious sin, it may be better for that person to use contraception to prevent them from getting diseases, since they are already in a state of sin anyway.  It still is unacceptable for practicing Catholics under all circumstances, and still is considered an intrinsic moral evil.  As for the Orthodox, if there is not a uniform moral interpretation now, what happened among Orthodox theologians that it became a question recently, when previously Orthodox unanimously condemned it?  Or is that not historically accurate?  Are there examples of Orthodox bishops prior to 50-100 years ago that said it was morally neutral or even acceptable?  As far as abortion goes, I hope I am wrong about this, but I have heard that the GOA tolerates abortion in the case of rape.  Is this true, and if so, how does the GOA justify tolerating it?

Quote
With respect to St. Maximos, consider the time.  His statements regard Rome are contingent upon that time.  What was the state of Orthodoxy then.  It was under siege in the East among the hierarchy but in Rome there was a faithful champion. Has this case been necessarily true at all times prior or since?

Here's the quote I was thinking of in particular.  "The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High." -St. Maximos the Confessor
To me, it sounds like he's saying Rome will always have these qualities, not something that it happened to have during his time.

Quote
As for the objection about the someone being the "head" of the Church instead of Jesus, you may have heard a not quite terminologically correct expression of the idea.  The problem, as I understand it, is regarding the Pope as the "Vicar" of Christ. This is contrary to Orthodox theology. We cannot say the Church has no need of bishops, etc. because Christ is the head of the Church. He is, but that headship finds its iconic expression in the Church through its hierarchical organs. What does St. Ignatius the Holy Martyr say about the role of the Bishop and the clergy?  This must be true of every Orthodox bishop. If only one Bishop in the world is the touchstone and font of the faith for the faithful, then the whole of the episcopacy is subverted. There remains only one bishop, the pope, and all the rest are reduced to the status of suffragins, administrative deputies and not true bishops in their own right. The local church as the full expression of the faith and economy of grace is destroyed in favor of the universal.  This cannot be.

I do agree with you on this.  If the Pope has immediate jurisdiction always and everywhere, there is no need to have any other bishops.  This is one of the things that doesn't make sense to me on the Catholic side.  But he must have some substantive authority over other bishops, at least in the case of settling disputes, or else if two bishops were in a deadlock disagreement, there would be no one to settle it, and a council wouldn't be called over issues like territorial disputes, would they?

Quote
In the meantime we have to deal with human weakness, even among bishops. If there is so issue about which there is significant difference that touches upon the faith, then that is why we have councils. We have never, not even in Apostolic times looked to one infallible leader's voice, but rather understood that in council we may most clearly discern, as a Church, the voice and will of the Holy Spirit in the governance and teaching of the Church.  The pattern is simple: the council deliberates its examination of the Tradition, issues its decision of the matter at hand and that news is delivered unto the faithful.  If those decrees/canons are met with joy, if they restore peace to the Church in a reasonable amount of time, then we know, the Spirit has spoken and those conciliar canons are binding on all Orthodox Christians.  If peace is not restored and the conflict continues, or even escalates, we know that either the council was a false council, defending a heresy, or one whose work was incomplete and not yet done.  We may look at the 7th council as an example of this.  The iconoclastic controversy lasted over 150 years.  The iconoclastic bishops tried to conceive a council to settle the matter definitively for the whole church…their words settled nothing, the controversy raged on for years and years, until a new council was called that defended the icons and reaffirmed the Orthodox faith. The matter was then settled. The people accepted the ruling and canons, and to this day the whole Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Orthodoxy in commemoration of this triumph of the faith over the iconoclastic heresy.  Or as the Scriptures say, "deep calls to deep"  Councils and the laity exhibit a concord about the truth of the faith because the Holy Spirit in both answer to and affirm that truth. If the council's decisions do not resonate with the rest of the Church…then the council is off, not concord with the Spirit, and is disregarded.

I like this explanation alot.  I have never heard of that before.  It is also interesting what you say about Chalcedon.  If Copts want to become Orthodox and are neither rebaptized or chrismated, does this mean you believe the Coptic Church to already in a sense be a part of the Orthodox Church?  Is this case for just the Coptic Church, or all the non-chalcedonian Orthodox churches?  What would be necessary for a corporate reunion between the EOs and the OOs?

Seraphim, thank you so much for answering in the way you did, it's giving me just the new stuff to think about that I was hoping to get!
Logged
Seraphim98
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 562



« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2011, 12:14:02 AM »

Quote
So, are you saying that some ROCOR bishops will bring Catholics in by chrismation, and some by rebaptism, and the same with the Antiochian church?  If so, that's interesting.  I wasn't aware of that.  Don't Orthodox believe that baptism is necessary for one to be joined to the Church?  If so, what is the reasoning for relaxing strictness on baptism if you don't believe a heterodox baptism to be complete?  I mean, if the Orthodox Church is the true Church, and baptism is the only way one can become a member, and any non-Orthodox baptism was incomplete, wouldn't it make more sense for re-baptism to be the norm?

It has happened in that way before in the Russian church, but when "economia" started feeling like the norm in some places, and the line of understanding became fuzzy between the two communions, the bishops returned to strictness. Something similar has happened recently in the OCA…the economia of chrismation was being used very liberally by a number of priests with converts, and the Metropolitan put a stop to it saying that the privilege to grant an economy belongs to the bishop, not the priest, and the priest cannot just assume an economy is permitted. Now for each case the priest wants to consider chrismation instead of rebaptism he must seek the formal permission of the Bishop.

Orthodoxy does not consider any heterodox baptism complete, but how to fix them has a number of approaches depending upon a variety of factors priests and bishops take into consideration. From my point of view, rebaptism in most cases does make more sense as you put it. When I converted I asked if I could be rebaptised rather than chrismation even though it was offered. That said if the priest had preferred chrismation, that is the route I would have gone as a matter of obedience regardless of my preferences.

One thing to bear in mind is that what is normative and what is effective is not at the same time mechanical. It's not a magic rite but a prescribed means of encounter with a Person. Consider that in Roman times the persecutors on occasions would mock Christians by holding "comic" baptisms…except that sometimes the actor coming up out of the water began to confess Christ and by the inspiration of the Spirit preach Him to the lawless crowd who then called for his death and granted the Church a freshly washed and minted martyr.  There are cases when inquirers and catechumens have been mistakenly admitted to the Chalice.  What to do since they have communed?  The common wisdom to receive them immediately reckoning that God has already accepted them at the Chalice.  It's not the normative way, not the approved way…but it happens that way, sometimes.

Quote
Can you explain God condescending to our weakness more?  Why does adultery get special treatment?  If it is medicinal, and remarriage is adultery, at least for argument's sake, wouldn't it be doing more harm to a person's soul to allow them to engage in adultery, then it would to firmly tell them no?  What of any other sin?  Why isn't there economia in terms of fornication, pornography, homosexuality, etc?  I certainly don't mean to trivialize the issue.  As hard as it must be to come to the conclusion that your marriage didn't work for whatever reason, and knowing that that doesn't automatically make someone suited to celibacy, I don't see how allowing someone to commit adultery is better for their soul than having to struggle with a celibacy that doesn't come naturally to oneself.

This is essentially what Jesus Himself said when asked about the question of divorce and remarriage.  He said the commandment permitting divorce was given by Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning it was not so.  So is Jesus then saying Moses gave permission to the people to commit adultery under the color of divorce and remarriage?  Heaven forbid.  Neither does the Church.

Remarriage ceremonies in the Church are substantially different than that of a first marriage.  Second marriages come after the reconciliation with the Church after divorce. They are penitential in tone, and are not considered icons of the marriage feast of the Lamb. They are condescensions to the weakness of man, and are blessed with an eye to the salvation of both of the couple's souls by accepting that their marriage is such a condescension, that they are weak and need to work together to do better this time helping each other to serve God in this marriage…a priest could give better explanation of the expectation.  

I suppose the difference could be expressed this way…the first marriage is a sacrament of the Church, a second marriage may be blessed for the good of the souls of those involved to strengthen them against falling into things like fornication, despondency, etc. but those marriages are not sacraments though they may be lived out sacramentally as we are directed to do with all our lives.  If I'm mistaken I trust a priest will correct my errors.

Quote
As for the Orthodox, if there is not a uniform moral interpretation now, what happened among Orthodox theologians that it became a question recently, when previously Orthodox unanimously condemned it?  Or is that not historically accurate?  Are there examples of Orthodox bishops prior to 50-100 years ago that said it was morally neutral or even acceptable?  As far as abortion goes, I hope I am wrong about this, but I have heard that the GOA tolerates abortion in the case of rape.  Is this true, and if so, how does the GOA justify tolerating it?

I don't know the answer to that one…different times, different technology, different societal expectations, etc., it all has an impact. A 150 years ago no self-respecting woman, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant would dare be seen in public, especially Church without a head covering.  Not so universally observed anymore though the verse that support it are still clearly written in the Bible, and we've literally tons of icons showing examples of modest dress across the ages.  As for opinions among GOA hierarchical circles on rape/abortion…I don't know.

Quote
Here's the quote I was thinking of in particular.  "The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High." -St. Maximos the Confessor
To me, it sounds like he's saying Rome will always have these qualities, not something that it happened to have during his time.

Based on Rome's witness into his own time, he may well have considered her a special case. I don't know. The Orthodox position with respect to sayings of the saints is to not go by what any one of them says in isolation from the rest. That is where the term consensus of the fathers comes from. So for us it is not strictly a question of did this Saint say this thing or that thing, but is what he said consistent with what the other saints have said on the same topic.  There are relatively few saints whose track record on all points has so far proven pristine.

Quote
I do agree with you on this.  If the Pope has immediate jurisdiction always and everywhere, there is no need to have any other bishops.  This is one of the things that doesn't make sense to me on the Catholic side.  But he must have some substantive authority over other bishops, at least in the case of settling disputes, or else if two bishops were in a deadlock disagreement, there would be no one to settle it, and a council wouldn't be called over issues like territorial disputes, would they?

I believe this is covered under the principle of conciliarity.  Bishops belong to a synod, normatively that of the other bishops in their region/nation.  One of them is their primate, their leader, and they should not do any major thing that effects them all without his knowing and his blessing. Individually that owe him a certain amount of deference and obedience. But it also works the other way. The primate may not act unilaterally without the consent of his fellow bishops, and he is answerable to them collectively for the exercise of his office.  If he errs in the faith, makes a horrible muddle of management, etc. they have the means and authority to remove him.  This was once the duty of the what became the college of cardinals in Rome.  There was a time when they could not only choose a new pope, but could censure, and even remove him if needed.

Quote
I like this explanation alot.  I have never heard of that before.  It is also interesting what you say about Chalcedon.  If Copts want to become Orthodox and are neither rebaptized or chrismated, does this mean you believe the Coptic Church to already in a sense be a part of the Orthodox Church?  Is this case for just the Coptic Church, or all the non-chalcedonian Orthodox churches?  What would be necessary for a corporate reunion between the EOs and the OOs?

We ask ourselves a lot of the same questions, and we pray the walls that separate us do not reach into heaven.  What separates us is both easy and very difficult to resolve.  The particulars of theological language are the easiest…indeed there is broad feeling, though not universal by a long shot, that the Christilogical understanding called "miaphysitism" is not incompatible with Orthodox Christological language, though we do not prefer it.  For some it's the Christological equivalent of shaving gnat hairs…a question more of emphasis than substance.  It would require them signing off on the councils…all of them, but what is taught by them is already believed and practiced by in large by the Copts, the only major stumbling point essentially the language of Chalcedon.  The big problem is the accumulation of history, some of it serious.  They have as saints those whom the Orthodox not only do not recognize, but condemn, and vis versa. That's a sticky wicket to figure out a way around. We talk about resolution among ourselves a good bit, as you may witness on these boards, but as to a way forward we haven't found it yet.  

Matthew the Poor, a recently reposed Coptic monk advised against reunification right now so long as the Copts are so persecuted by Islam.  He thought it would undermine their faith in some way looking for comfort and acceptance from abroad. It might make them vacillating when they needed to be firm in working out the issues that divide us.  That said, he had nothing but love for the Orthodox faith, and was an avid reader of Orthodox saints, often spending hours in tearful prayer to them that he might understand a little of their wisdom.

And that's sort of where thing are…we both have our hotheads, both recognize the difficulty of resolving those things that separate us in this day and time, but are resolved ourselves to love and respect each other and for our part to leave definitive questions of Orthodoxy on corporate level to future councils and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  In the meantime, we respect the broken fellowship between our bishops in our obedience to them in the faith…but I think, all things said and done we care very much for each other and long to be reunited and pray for each until the Lord makes a way.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 12:18:31 AM by Seraphim98 » Logged
Tags:
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.1 seconds with 37 queries.