Author Topic: How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?  (Read 1891 times)

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Offline Rho

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How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« on: June 23, 2004, 07:03:35 AM »
First I would like to point out that Anastasios has OK'd this subject for this forum.   :o ;D

Now then, over the course of several posts on this website, I have seen 'private interpretation' of, say, the Scriptures excoriated and the notion rejected as foreign to the Church.  I have been confused also by statements to the effect that the Orthodox do not systematise and write everything down as do the RCs, so my question is this:  without exercising private interpretation and without systematising it as Orthodox scorn RCC for doing, how do Orthodox know just what the Church teaches?
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Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re:How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2004, 08:19:16 AM »
That's a good question.  From my reading there doesn't seem to be clear cut place where one can "get all the answers" in regards to Orthodox belief.  I've read some make a distinction between Orthodox dogma, as defined by Councils and Creeds and such, and theologneuma(sp?) which is opionion more and less common among Orthodox but not required belief for salvation.  I've read others particularly on this board state that one has to accept the "whole package", so to speak.  But again how does one know? How do we know what is actual dogma as opposed to pious theological opinion (which my vary among the Fathers and other believers) or whether or not there really is a difference?
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Offline Shiloah

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Re:How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2004, 08:51:15 PM »
... But again how does one know? How do we know what is actual dogma as opposed to pious theological opinion (which my vary among the Fathers and other believers) or whether or not there really is a difference?

Quote
...how do Orthodox know just what the Church teaches?

By receiving the teachings of the Church through attendance.
By studying the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Tradition of the Church.
By learning from those who have gone before us.

It is a life-long journey. There is no quick fix. Filling your mind with dogmatic head knowledge will leave your heart empty and hungry.

Besides, the Lord does not take pleasure in us just going through the motions. He does not want 'mechanical worship'. But He says in Ps.51:17 through the mouth of David that "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

So, if you want to learn about dogmata, go to seminary. If your heart is hungry for God, tell Him.

I guess this answer is better than no answer, Guys.

Shiloah



« Last Edit: June 23, 2004, 08:53:46 PM by Shiloah »
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Offline Fr. David

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Re:How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2004, 12:43:28 AM »
I have seen 'private interpretation' of, say, the Scriptures excoriated and the notion rejected as foreign to the Church...my question is this:  without exercising private interpretation...how do Orthodox know just what the Church teaches?

We don't.  At least, not on every little iota and tau.   ;D  I've talked with you, as you know, about this privately.  We tend to build fences around more general truths rather than delineate "official truths" that preclude (are you proud of me, Linus7?) any pesky laypersons who might try to think for themselves! ( :o)  

So we don't always know exactly what we can say on *every single subject.*  Granted.  But we are *very* sure when we come up against something we *can't* say.  We know said person's gone outside our fence.

As for contradictory beliefs inside these fenced in areas, well, one is free to hold to either one -- we would recognize that one or both would have to be wrong -- as the Church hasn't proclaimed such.

As for, "Well, fine, but how do you know when a fence is really a fence and when it's just a post or whatnot?"  Check the liturgical and prayer life of the Church, for starters; if something wildly contradicts that, it's not good.  The prayers of the Church are Her lifeline, her living connection (the "living tradition," if you will) and communion, both with God and those who've gone on before.  If anything can be seen to be a "delineation" or definition of doctrine, that'd be it.

A question for you: What issues do you see in which Orthodox Christians blatantly contradict each other in terms of "official teaching," with one on the inside of a fence and another on the outside, with both being considered Orthodox?  This, to me, would be the only cause for alarm.
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Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re:How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2004, 06:27:01 AM »
Good post, Pedro.  I have read and understood that Orthodox epistemology was largely apophatic, so what you describe does make sense.
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Offline icxn

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Offline Rho

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Re:How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2004, 08:37:28 AM »
Quote
What issues do you see in which Orthodox Christians blatantly contradict each other in terms of "official teaching," with one on the inside of a fence and another on the outside, with both being considered Orthodox?  

>>To be honest, Pedro, I ask the question because it has so far been difficult for me to ascertain just what "official teaching" is.  I recently asked you for the "official teaching" on a particular Scriptural passage, and you referred me to the Orthodox Study Bible.  I note that the Orthodox Study Bible is *not* among the sources for doctrine that is found in the official-looking article found on the website that ICXN mentioned.  Why would you quote something like that as a source?  
Another question I have is that, in response, you might have quoted me a particular writing by a particular Church Father, which I can appreciate.  But what happens if that writing falls in the arena of what is commonly known as the "80% of the Fathers that are right 80% of the time"?  How can I have confidence in that?
"I have taken my good deeds and my bad deeds and thrown them together in a heap. Then I have fled from both of them to Christ, and in Him I have peace." --David Dickson

Matthew 9:13 - Who is the sinner if not I?

Offline Fr. David

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Re:How do Orthodox know the teaching of the Church?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2004, 01:01:25 PM »
I recently asked you for the "official teaching" on a particular Scriptural passage, and you referred me to the Orthodox Study Bible [which] is *not* among the sources for doctrine that is found in the official-looking article found on the website that ICXN mentioned.  Why would you quote something like that as a source?

Because it is in agreement with those sources of doctrine.

Quote
Another question I have is...what happens if that writing [of a particular Church Father] falls in the arena of what is commonly known as the "80% of the Fathers that are right 80% of the time"?  How can I have confidence in that?

Well, I take it that by I you mean one, i.e., how can one have confidence....  I personally have confidence in the Church, as it's been my experience that Her priests and bishops (at least the ones whose brains I have picked) have a good grasp of which Fathers went off-base at what point.  And I haven't encountered a lot of discrepancy between them.

And just to correct your idea (which I personally may have given you!  :-): a Father of the Church, by definition, is one who almost always has a firm grasp on the truth of the Faith -- It would be better to say that 100% of the Fathers are right most of the time.  That would be what makes a father, a father.

By the way, icxn -- thank you for the link to the GOA pg.  I'd read some of the sources you'd quoted but had forgotten about some of the others.  Excellent summary of definitive sources of our Faith.
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