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Volnutt
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« Reply #135 on: July 15, 2011, 03:12:56 PM »

True.
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James2
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« Reply #136 on: July 15, 2011, 03:43:25 PM »

You seem to be confused as to the purpose of Ecumenical Councils: they are not to come up with a compromise that everyone can live with.  They witness to the Truth by drawing a line, erecting a boundary mark, and willow the wheat from the chaff.  By there very nature they creat "us" and "them."  That chaff remains to be blown to and fro with the wind doesn't negate the barns of the Church full of wheat.


I get that.  The point of my response to Irish Hermit was that the charge of instigating divisions in Christianity can be applied to several of the Ecumenical Councils, as well as to the Papacy.  Doesn't mean that the Councils' definitions themselves are theologically wrong, just the historical fact that they have remained controversial.
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« Reply #137 on: July 15, 2011, 04:06:37 PM »

Well, if you're going so wildly to disagree with the Orthodox Church you probably shouldn't be in it...

An interesting, albeit impertinent, take on the situation.  I actually believe that Orthodoxy is about as close to "authentic" Christianity as you can get.  But I didn't park my brains at the door when I entered, either.  The Church is not perfect, and the historical record is pretty clear about that.

Actually, if you have doubts, the wisest choice is to be in the Ark which knows where it is going.

I can take that advice!

It's kind of like the compass in my car.  I may not know where I am, but at least I know in what direction I'm going! laugh
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Volnutt
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« Reply #138 on: July 15, 2011, 04:13:34 PM »

Well, if you're going so wildly to disagree with the Orthodox Church you probably shouldn't be in it...

An interesting, albeit impertinent, take on the situation.  I actually believe that Orthodoxy is about as close to "authentic" Christianity as you can get.  But I didn't park my brains at the door when I entered, either.  The Church is not perfect, and the historical record is pretty clear about that.
No impertinence intended, just trying to be honest. I'm not sure how to deal with the record myself. I'm not sure "close enough" is good enough anymore. Same reason I'm losing my Protestantism...
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James2
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« Reply #139 on: July 15, 2011, 04:24:04 PM »

Well, if you're going so wildly to disagree with the Orthodox Church you probably shouldn't be in it...

An interesting, albeit impertinent, take on the situation.  I actually believe that Orthodoxy is about as close to "authentic" Christianity as you can get.  But I didn't park my brains at the door when I entered, either.  The Church is not perfect, and the historical record is pretty clear about that.
No impertinence intended, just trying to be honest. I'm not sure how to deal with the record myself. I'm not sure "close enough" is good enough anymore. Same reason I'm losing my Protestantism...

No sweat.  I hear you.
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Peter J
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« Reply #140 on: July 15, 2011, 04:59:05 PM »

You seem to be confused as to the purpose of Ecumenical Councils: they are not to come up with a compromise that everyone can live with.  They witness to the Truth by drawing a line, erecting a boundary mark, and willow the wheat from the chaff.  By there very nature they creat "us" and "them."  That chaff remains to be blown to and fro with the wind doesn't negate the barns of the Church full of wheat.


Sounds good to me. As I said earlier:

What had been developing, as James said, for centuries (a millennium, actually, if you go back to Pope Leo I) was made definitive at Florence: no longer could alternative views be held in the Church.

The 16th century confirms this. In the first place, those who rejected Papal Primacy/Supremacy had to leave the Church entirely (the Protestant Reformation). In the second place, those who entered into communion with the Church (e.g. the Union of Brest) had to accept Papal Primacy/Supremacy.
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« Reply #141 on: July 15, 2011, 08:38:26 PM »

Quote from: James2
Quote from: xariskai
It is certainly inaccurate to say there is *no* primatial power in Orthodoxy; rather there is no *absolute* primatial power in Orthodoxy. Absolute power corrupts, as absolute independence corrupts. In Orthodoxy there is a proper balance of power, specifically sobernost, under the headship of Christ (cf. Ernst Benz below). In Orthodoxy bishops must call for the amen of the people. The people have a voice along with deacons and presbyters. This has worked out just fine for some 2000 years now.

If this approach had worked "just fine", the major schisms that took place wouldn't have occurred, nor the Great Schism.
I definitely cannot agree with you here. Failure to prevent schisms is certainly *not* a sine qua non of the true Church. At the very least such a definition is not found in scripture or the tradition of the fathers and reduces to private opinion (unless you can document it in the thinking of some major Orthodox father, saint, or theologian, which I invite you to do). Schisms have existed from the inception of the Church. They do not entail that the Church "does not work."

On your hypothesis that schism indicates the failure of an approach "to work" it would clearly follow that Christ's nor Paul's approach also "did not work" since neither Christ nor Paul were able to prevent schisms:

"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" -2 Tim 1:15

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" -John 6:66

If you want a degree of unity of mind and thought that has persisted since the earliest centuries of Christianity which surpasses most anything else you will find in the history of Christendom, you will find that in Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Both EO and OO can make this claim; RC only sustains a modified claim, IMO, by adopting a notion of evolutionary development, e.g. papal supremacy and infallibility, inherited guilt, soteriology of merit, etc.). The Orthodox claim is to have achieved significant unity of mind and thought persisting through the centuries, not unity which never precipitated division or schism. No one has ever achieved this. Christ did not achieve this. The first century church did not achieve this. If this is the sine qua non of the true church, agnosticism would indeed become appealing, as pointed out by Volnutt.

Quote from: James2
One party's definition is another one's innovation.
Nicea I and Constantinople I led to the Arian schism.
If you want something that accepts everything and rejects nothing, G.K. Chesterton famously observed, just look to the city sewer.

Arianism is a heresy, not a schism. If in the face of the mere presence of diversity our manner of thinking precludes us from being able distinguish between heresy and schism, or between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy, our thinking at the very least not Orthodox. If such things cannot in principle be demarcated, there is no such thing as Orthodoxy (right teaching); indeed the very notion of authentic Christianity might be called into question, as again is frequently done today. Certainly one might suppose such a position would appeal to the devil.
Quote
"...we should humbly acknowledge our own failings that contributed to the fragmenting of Christianity."
Orthodox Christians claim to know where the Church is, but not where it is not. Your tacit assumption to be able to "see" a larger church beyond the confines of the visible Orthodox Church, to argue that EO has "fragmented the [larger] church" goes beyond what most Orthodox Christians would say about the visible church.  I prefer the traditional notion that Orthodoxy preserved and indeed is the fullness of Christianity and constitutes the visible Church to the notion that Orthodoxy has fragmented the [larger] church.

Quote from: James2
And I certainly agree that with you that truth exists. The problem is, how do we identify the truth in a given situation? When two groups are diametrically opposed, only one (at most) can have the truth, but each most certainly thinks that their side is right. In the absence of a new revelation from God, the Church has to find ways to work these things out.
If the Church of the living body of Christ is not itself the working out of these things, as Orthodox Christians believe.

Regarding the rationalistic component of your perspective I would suggest -since the question is theological- that unless the only answer given to your question "how do we identify the truth" is the biblical one, "by the Spirit of God," your focus has shifted from a theological one to rationalism and epistemology (the subdivision of philosophy which is concerned with the question "How does one know what one knows?") and that the question itself -a product of medieval to modern classical foundationalism- is wrong with respect to knowledge of Christ and His body. For a fuller explanation see the Nuda Scriptura thread I started in Orthodox-Protestant Discussion.

It has been suggested that atheism and agnosticism are not so much ontological (relating to what is) or even epistemological (relating to how a human being can know what he or she knows) so much as a psychological (relating and extrapolating one's personal inability to perceive -i.e. statements of one's personal life-situation). Similarly, to say one cannot individually tell what the true Church is in the face of schisms is not convincing enough as an ontological universal claim to suppose most Orthodox Christians would find convincing (i.e. that if one cannot tell, no one can)' this too can be seen as more of a psychological claim relating to one's own personal journey. Our reasons will of course be congruent to our personal psychology, but biblically and patristically they are not reducible to that.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 09:13:11 PM by xariskai » Logged

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« Reply #142 on: July 15, 2011, 09:25:00 PM »

Quote from: James2
Quote from: xariskai
It is certainly inaccurate to say there is *no* primatial power in Orthodoxy; rather there is no *absolute* primatial power in Orthodoxy. Absolute power corrupts, as absolute independence corrupts. In Orthodoxy there is a proper balance of power, specifically sobernost, under the headship of Christ (cf. Ernst Benz below). In Orthodoxy bishops must call for the amen of the people. The people have a voice along with deacons and presbyters. This has worked out just fine for some 2000 years now.

If this approach had worked "just fine", the major schisms that took place wouldn't have occurred, nor the Great Schism.
I definitely cannot agree with you here. Failure to prevent schisms is certainly *not* a sine qua non of the true Church. At the very least such a definition is not found in scripture or the tradition of the fathers and reduces to private opinion (unless you can document it in the thinking of some major Orthodox father, saint, or theologian, which I invite you to do). Schisms have existed from the inception of the Church. They do not entail that the Church "does not work."

On your hypothesis that schism indicates the failure of an approach "to work" it would clearly follow that Christ's nor Paul's approach also "did not work" since neither Christ nor Paul were able to prevent schisms:

"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" -2 Tim 1:15

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" -John 6:66

If you want a degree of unity of mind and thought that has persisted since the earliest centuries of Christianity which surpasses most anything else you will find in the history of Christendom, you will find that in Eastern Orthodox Christianity

I don't think even that is quite true. Consider: could someone holding the same beliefs that Pope Leo I held, today enter into full communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church? Surely not.
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« Reply #143 on: July 15, 2011, 09:28:26 PM »

Quote from: James2
Quote from: xariskai
It is certainly inaccurate to say there is *no* primatial power in Orthodoxy; rather there is no *absolute* primatial power in Orthodoxy. Absolute power corrupts, as absolute independence corrupts. In Orthodoxy there is a proper balance of power, specifically sobernost, under the headship of Christ (cf. Ernst Benz below). In Orthodoxy bishops must call for the amen of the people. The people have a voice along with deacons and presbyters. This has worked out just fine for some 2000 years now.

If this approach had worked "just fine", the major schisms that took place wouldn't have occurred, nor the Great Schism.
I definitely cannot agree with you here. Failure to prevent schisms is certainly *not* a sine qua non of the true Church. At the very least such a definition is not found in scripture or the tradition of the fathers and reduces to private opinion (unless you can document it in the thinking of some major Orthodox father, saint, or theologian, which I invite you to do). Schisms have existed from the inception of the Church. They do not entail that the Church "does not work."

On your hypothesis that schism indicates the failure of an approach "to work" it would clearly follow that Christ's nor Paul's approach also "did not work" since neither Christ nor Paul were able to prevent schisms:

"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" -2 Tim 1:15

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" -John 6:66

If you want a degree of unity of mind and thought that has persisted since the earliest centuries of Christianity which surpasses most anything else you will find in the history of Christendom, you will find that in Eastern Orthodox Christianity

I don't think even that is quite true. Consider: could someone holding the same beliefs that Pope Leo I held, today enter into full communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church? Surely not.
I don't know; David Bentley Hart is Eastern Orthodox. Regardless, I don't see that the Orthodox Church has changed so much.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 09:36:07 PM by xariskai » Logged

Silly Stars
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« Reply #144 on: July 15, 2011, 09:35:27 PM »


As for your reference to Patriarch Joseph II, it is highly presumptuous to attribute Divine displeasure to anyone's demise.

Not in this case.  The Church has judged.

Then the Church is wrong.

In the Last Will and Testament found in the room of the deceased Patriarch Joseph there is a total concession to all the Roman claims and teachings.

BUT we know that this Will was a forgery.  We know that two days before his death Patriarch Joseph was still defending the Orthodox position on these things.

See message 40
at
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36485.msg600420.html#msg600420
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #145 on: July 15, 2011, 09:44:35 PM »


Not to play the "numbers" card, but the Assyrians have always been pretty insignificant AFAIK.

It's a little off topic but I remind us all of the glorious history of the Church of the East.


BY FOOT TO CHINA

Mission of The Church of the East, to 1400

http://www.aina.org/books/bftc/bftc.htm


DEDICATED to the memory of the men of God who thirteen centuries ago first took the gospel to China - "the missionaries who traveled on foot, sandals on their feet, a staff in their hands, a basket on their backs, and in the basket the Holy Scriptures and the cross. They went over deep rivers and high mountains, thousands of miles, and on the way, meeting many nations, they preached to them the gospel of Christ."

An extraordinary online account and a must read.

And in message 29 at http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20533.msg310275/topicseen.html#msg310275

you can read about the book:

The Lost History of Christianity

The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died
by Philip Jenkins
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James2
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« Reply #146 on: July 15, 2011, 10:28:23 PM »

Quote from: James2
Quote from: xariskai
It is certainly inaccurate to say there is *no* primatial power in Orthodoxy; rather there is no *absolute* primatial power in Orthodoxy. Absolute power corrupts, as absolute independence corrupts. In Orthodoxy there is a proper balance of power, specifically sobernost, under the headship of Christ (cf. Ernst Benz below). In Orthodoxy bishops must call for the amen of the people. The people have a voice along with deacons and presbyters. This has worked out just fine for some 2000 years now.

If this approach had worked "just fine", the major schisms that took place wouldn't have occurred, nor the Great Schism.
I definitely cannot agree with you here. Failure to prevent schisms is certainly *not* a sine qua non of the true Church. At the very least such a definition is not found in scripture or the tradition of the fathers and reduces to private opinion (unless you can document it in the thinking of some major Orthodox father, saint, or theologian, which I invite you to do). Schisms have existed from the inception of the Church. They do not entail that the Church "does not work."

On your hypothesis that schism indicates the failure of an approach "to work" it would clearly follow that Christ's nor Paul's approach also "did not work" since neither Christ nor Paul were able to prevent schisms:

"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" -2 Tim 1:15

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" -John 6:66

If you want a degree of unity of mind and thought that has persisted since the earliest centuries of Christianity which surpasses most anything else you will find in the history of Christendom, you will find that in Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Both EO and OO can make this claim; RC only sustains a modified claim, IMO, by adopting a notion of evolutionary development, e.g. papal supremacy and infallibility, inherited guilt, soteriology of merit, etc.). The Orthodox claim is to have achieved significant unity of mind and thought persisting through the centuries, not unity which never precipitated division or schism. No one has ever achieved this. Christ did not achieve this. The first century church did not achieve this. If this is the sine qua non of the true church, agnosticism would indeed become appealing, as pointed out by Volnutt.

Quote from: James2
One party's definition is another one's innovation.
Nicea I and Constantinople I led to the Arian schism.
If you want something that accepts everything and rejects nothing, G.K. Chesterton famously observed, just look to the city sewer.

Arianism is a heresy, not a schism. If in the face of the mere presence of diversity our manner of thinking precludes us from being able distinguish between heresy and schism, or between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy, our thinking at the very least not Orthodox. If such things cannot in principle be demarcated, there is no such thing as Orthodoxy (right teaching); indeed the very notion of authentic Christianity might be called into question, as again is frequently done today. Certainly one might suppose such a position would appeal to the devil.
Quote
"...we should humbly acknowledge our own failings that contributed to the fragmenting of Christianity."
Orthodox Christians claim to know where the Church is, but not where it is not. Your tacit assumption to be able to "see" a larger church beyond the confines of the visible Orthodox Church, to argue that EO has "fragmented the [larger] church" goes beyond what most Orthodox Christians would say about the visible church.  I prefer the traditional notion that Orthodoxy preserved and indeed is the fullness of Christianity and constitutes the visible Church to the notion that Orthodoxy has fragmented the [larger] church.

Quote from: James2
And I certainly agree that with you that truth exists. The problem is, how do we identify the truth in a given situation? When two groups are diametrically opposed, only one (at most) can have the truth, but each most certainly thinks that their side is right. In the absence of a new revelation from God, the Church has to find ways to work these things out.
If the Church of the living body of Christ is not itself the working out of these things, as Orthodox Christians believe.

Regarding the rationalistic component of your perspective I would suggest -since the question is theological- that unless the only answer given to your question "how do we identify the truth" is the biblical one, "by the Spirit of God," your focus has shifted from a theological one to rationalism and epistemology (the subdivision of philosophy which is concerned with the question "How does one know what one knows?") and that the question itself -a product of medieval to modern classical foundationalism- is wrong with respect to knowledge of Christ and His body. For a fuller explanation see the Nuda Scriptura thread I started in Orthodox-Protestant Discussion.

It has been suggested that atheism and agnosticism are not so much ontological (relating to what is) or even epistemological (relating to how a human being can know what he or she knows) so much as a psychological (relating and extrapolating one's personal inability to perceive -i.e. statements of one's personal life-situation). Similarly, to say one cannot individually tell what the true Church is in the face of schisms is not convincing enough as an ontological universal claim to suppose most Orthodox Christians would find convincing (i.e. that if one cannot tell, no one can)' this too can be seen as more of a psychological claim relating to one's own personal journey. Our reasons will of course be congruent to our personal psychology, but biblically and patristically they are not reducible to that.

Thank you for your thoughtful response.  I'd like to expand a bit on what I said previously.

Increasingly, I question claims that only the Orthodox Church has preserved the true faith.   Obviously, I don't buy into Rome's exclusive claims to authority, either, although I think that those things which the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have in common greatly outweigh the few things that divide them.  Even the Protestants have gotten quite a few things right.

And I don't mean to suggest that Orthodox ecclesiology doesn't work at all, but rather that certain aspects of it are problematic.  I know that the Ecumenical Councils are supposed to be manifestations of the Holy Spirit leading the Church, but as a student of history it is difficult for me not to see them as rather messy human affairs deeply entangled in both ecclesiastical and secular politics.  They may have been "theologically correct" by their own standards, but they clearly alienated a lot of other faithful Christians.  Remember that those to whom we refer as "heretics" considered themselves to be "orthodox".  And if Ecumenical Councils are so important to the life of the Church, why haven't we had one for centuries?  The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and the Church needs to be able to adapt itself so that it can effectively proclaim its message.

You state that Orthodoxy claims to have "achieved significant unity of mind and thought persisting through the centuries".  Certainly on the essential doctrines, but to what level do you carry such unity?  Not to the point of total uniformity and stagnation, I hope.  If we fail to change at all, then Orthodoxy risks becoming like the Amish, only with a more venerable tradition.  A mark of the true Christian is humility, and the Church should partake of its members' humility and not succumb to pridefulness in a historical record which is hardly spotless.

Your answer to "how do we identify the truth" begs the question of how does the Church effectively and accurately determine what "the Spirit of God" is saying in a given situation, if such a determination is even possible.  It's a fair question that potential converts have every right to ask.  It's not enough to tell them that the truth is whatever the Church says it is.  Most religious organizations make claims along those lines.  Why should they believe us?
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #147 on: July 15, 2011, 10:37:14 PM »


Increasingly, I question claims that only the Orthodox Church has preserved the true faith.


Do people say that?  Our bilateral discussion with the Roman Catholics concerns only a small 7% of the faith about which we disagree.  On the other 93% we are agreed that they hold the true faith and we see no great need to discuss it.

PS:  I just made up the 7%.  It may be 6.5%  Smiley
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