I'm looking for answers to those that are Orthodox and not Protestant. I recently was engaged in a bitter debate over the actual deity with Christ with another Protestant Christian who denied the divinity and claimed he was just a man. It didn't go down well and this other fellow was being supported by other Christians. Watching a few youtube videos I come across self proclaimed Christians partaking in new age beliefs and the like.
I am deeply bothered by this, I hearken back to a PM I received a long time ago who lost his Christian faith because of how he saw Christianity through the glass of Protestantism but then found Orthodoxy. When I hear a Christian said there are other ways to earn salvation and different paths, I can't help but to shake my head with this banter when its broadcasted on national television.
I guess I am more upset at certain popular figures being a bad witness to the Christian faith? How this impacts my own beliefs, I guess by nature I like to argue and get into heated debates, for me I find it difficult to accept someone is wrong and let it be, I'd like to intervene and show that person.
My contention too is why wouldn't God let Orthodoxy conquer the schisms and heretics of Christianity? Maybe one day when Protestantism collapses?
You have asked a fantastic question, and I'm going to give you a long answer.
First and foremost, I'm going to be up front with EVERYBODY reading this - this is MY personal testimony on this matter and MY opinion. This is NOT the opinion of the Eastern Orthodox faith or any other religion.
There are parts of Eastern Orthodoxy that I love. I love many of the traditions, the songs are bar none absolutely beautiful. The worship is beautiful as well. The churches are very ornate and elaborate (often).
But from experience, there is an issue of dogma and doctrines that have been added and changed which some of other Christian faiths have taught me.
Namely the Anabaptists - Amish & Mennonites.
First and foremost, I have personally witnessed on many occasions power grabs by bishops in the Eastern Orthodox church. There have been numerous fights and debates between bishops on certain practices and the parishoners are often left very confused. I have seen Bishops violate their own ordinations by participating in ecumenism. The irony and in fighting is very confusing.
So why is there so much in fighting when "real Christians" are supposed to be serving God rather than worrying about dogma? Where is the help to the widows and orphans which scripture commands? Yes, "some" churches help these people, but usually after the church is rather large and fancy. It's very ironic. The church can be laced in gold plate, have elaborate icons, and a gigantic congregation, and pure silver chalices, but lack the some very fundamental elements of the early Christians. Yes, they cross themselves, bow, cross themselves again, have the censor swung in their direction, cross themselves again. Then venerate and icon, but first crossing themselves before and after. Why? Because they truly believe "god cares".
There is other irony by making excuses.
We say "father" because of Paul.
But God (Jesus Christ) directly said "call no man Father or Rabbi". PERIOD. End of story.
The Eastern Orthodox are directly disobeying God and making and excuse.
This is one teaching that protestants do give, and in my opinion they are right. NO man, is "Father". If this is sticking in your craw reading this, I'm sorry, it's my opinion. But I'm telling you plain and simple, God (Jesus Christ) said "Call NO MAN FATHER". If Paul said he was like a "father", it doesn't matter. God commanded you not to call men "father".
So protestant teaching really taught me several things that I personally feel the Eastern Orthodox are doing wrong.
So I have to move to non-protestants & non-Catholic - the Anabaptists.
God said "You will know them by their fruits". So I'm going to lay out what I have witnessed from the Anabaptists.
I'll give 10 examples of their fruits and put them against Eastern Orthodoxy (though Orthodoxy is broad). This is the REAL FRUITS, and REAL RESULTS and not "what is supposed to be". Note, it is the "heavy general" that I have witnessed, and not always small specifics. ANABAPTISTS
1) Live in simplicity and are taught to in contentment.
2) Live with extreme charity of possessions.
3) Dedication to God.
4) All clothing is hand made, conservative, head coverings always, and never exploit children in sweat shops.
5) They are extremely charitable and very often give away their life savings to strangers
6) They are not of this world
7) They don't believe in the military and practice non-resistance
8. Their churches are simple with the focus on God
9) They routinely wash each other's feet, to humble one another. This includes the bishop to every male parishoner.
10) Some are of communal living as laymen and have community purses and the community shares everything.EASTERN ORTHODOX
1) Few live in simplicity, most do not.
2) Many tithe, and there is some charity.
3) Dedication to God
4) Clothing is most often store bought (made in Vietnam, China, Brazil...). Christians pray for help when they are exploiting others in sweat shops.
5) Most EO I have met would never give away their life savings.
6) EO are of this world, meet with politicians, commemorate worldly figures, and often dress worldly.
7) EO commemorates the military, president, and "armed forces everywhere".
8. Their churches are elaborate, some decked in gold lace, iconography. Does God really care?
9) Rarely the washing of feet. Forgiveness Sunday is not humbling oneself down and washing somebodies nasty feet. It's the "great equalizer".
10) Mostly only monks & convents live in communal living.
In these examples, I truly believe that he Anabaptists live more as early Christians than Eastern Orthodox.
By these few examples, and there are many more, it's made me heavily question the Eastern Orthodox church.
Again, remember, these are things that I have personally witnessed, and ARE MY OPINION
. If you are reading this and angry, ask yourself if it is merely cognitive dissonance and easier to attack the one putting it in black and white than to consider the context of what was said. Consider if your church has taught you non-resistance, and that you can peacefully contradict or agree with these issues rather than contort, slur, or attack.
I did not include if the Anabaptist have grace, and that is something I try to determine often.
So to the OP, protestantism and non-protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Messianic Jews, have created a very vexing paradigm in my spirituality. On one hand I see Eastern Orthodoxy as a church with grace but is really loaded with "Christian filler and needless acts" (Does God really want you to sit there crossing yourself 3 times or to go help somebody with anything in kindness?). If I directly look at the fruits I see the Anabaptists as "being known" but I am not sure they have grace. Then there's the messianic Jews which are fascinating to say the least and have some very interesting takes on how we view things from a Jewish point of view.
Okay again the disclaimer, MY OPINIONS
to the OP who asked.