Developments in the oc.net chat are making me wonder why this is ultimately so important to me and I'm not sure how to clarify, honestly.OK, thanks for this detail. I just wanted to make it clear that I think that the Eastern Orthodox Church (and the OO as well) are wonderful apostolic Churches and have a whole lot going for them. Just because i pointed out a few problematic areas, doesn't mean that I don't think that they are great Churches. And for the record, I have mentioned that I see some problematic areas with RC also.
I guess it started with all the Orthodox polemics I've read, especially against sola scripture which go on about how Protestantism is so mutaible and unstable. As much as I've tried to argue agaisnt that on here at times (I feel like I should at least try even if it turns out to be only for my own learning) I do tend to believe it. Sola scriptura is pretty unstable-though not as I've lived it. No, the Pentecostals I grew up with and of the churches I've been to and even the lion's share of Protestants I've known online really did seem to me to be united around the Creed.
Of course, we held to a conservativism that took for granted the idea that liberals like Spong and the leaders of the ELCA are Protestant in name only. Generally, the circles I ran in irl held Pentecostalism to be the, shall we say, "truest church. The closest to the vaunted first century model, others fell short by varying degrees but were still Christian if they held to the Creed. I must admit though, I've since come to realize we all tended to tack sola fide if not sola scriptura as well into the Creed, something I've fallen prey to on here from time to time.
So I don't know what I am anymore, I guess. I don't know how to go back to what I was, with my alcove of "little o" orthodoxy that admits some Protestants and not others. I don't know how to draw this line, how to battle with someone who has a different interpretation of Scripture-except with Tradition. But if Tradition, then sola scriptura doesn't have meaning for me anymore.
But then I see people like Stanley who point out all the disagreements which fill Orthodoxy, not on speculative crap like toll houses, but on things like birth control and the fate of suicides and of unbaptiszed infants who die- things which deeply impact people every day. Yet the consensus partum and the Ecumenical Councils tell us nothing concrete. And I can't help but agree with him that the true Church should have more concrete teachings than this on such crucial issues. God should lay it out for us. Otherwise he’s negligently leaving us to wonder in the darkness, Lord have mercy on me for daring to think this.
I don’t think the Papacy is any better because of all its own contradictions, I have no intention of becoming RC- but what I’m saying is I don’t know if abandoning Protestantism for Orthodoxy (and now, perhaps even staying Christian instead of becoming Agnostic or something) is a choice worth making. People like Father Damick convinced me the doctrinal grass was greener on the Eastern side of the fence and now I just don’t know if I can buy that. That is why I begin threads like this, I think.
Sorry for rambling.
To Volnutt - I share a lot of these feelings although I have read much less than you (that's to say, if I read more Orthodox materials particularly ones that make use of polemics, the "Christian" faith that I have could be put to further confusion and disarray). And your last paragraph is particularly wrenching - it couldn't possibly be worth losing faith to *have* to make a decision now, or even be on a decided course towards decision, on conversion? (Or could it?)
Stanley - if the Orthodox Church(es) are "wonderful apostolic Churches and have a whole lot going for them", my only comment is that this admission on your part is one of the 'issues' that serves to keep the waters very muddied, as the question of there being a One Church, or perhaps the necessity of generic Christians or non-Christians to join it. I won't say more because this isn't the Catholic-Orthodox board.
The questions and consternation that rather constantly come up in my inquiry by reading (...well, this forum!) and some of the modern Orthodox writings online and in books, has convinced me that the best way to approach Orthodoxy (again, me
) is by going to an Orthodox church, reading primarily devotional literature (homilies, prayers), and 'ancient' and later patristic and monastic writings. Granted, some (most?) of the ancient fathers and monastics might use some vicious, harsh polemical language in their works, and it is also suggested by many Orthodox clergy that laity should hold off the patristic and monastic texts until they are years advanced in Orthodox practice and devotion... but for some reason, I find the modern polemics between Orthodox and Catholics, and Protestants (for me chiefly regarding sola Scriptura
, substitutionary atonement and the relation of believing - in this life - with/toward salvation in the next) to be more wrangling - likely because I am living while the arguments are going on, and I am (have been) reading them to boot. Part of my answer, I think, is to leave off the stuff that I can't well handle reading, whether because I have a weak intellect, a weak faith, too literal reading of Scripture or whatever. If I am basically a sola Scriptura
or a "prima Scriptura
Protestant, then I just accept that with whatever the negative implications and in time, perhaps even the identification and understanding as such, would be weaned out, as focus on more liturgy and active prayers, a spiritual community would help sort it all out. It might take 10 years that way to "become Orthodox" (I mean the formal entry in baptism/christmation), but for the sake of maintaining a semblance of some faith and devotion where the Scriptures must be a primary support for this simpleton - will do it this way. (And still, I may never convert.)