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Author Topic: The Escape Hatch  (Read 3215 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: July 27, 2011, 07:00:55 AM »

The recent bull**** in Ireland has made me realize something. Protestantism has a real blessing-the ability to leave. You don't have to deal with a hierarchy or pastor when it's corrupt and self-serving and refuses to let justice be done, to show love. You can kick the dust off your shoes and not have any earthly connection to whatever pig in a cassock (or suit and tie) who laid his sick hands on your child or monk who's scamming money from people or the money-whore bishops or denominational leaders or church boards who hide them from accountability.

You can leave the church, you can leave the denomination, you can even form a house church like Christians used to when satan stirred up evil against them. Thank God for the freedom to break off ties. I wish the EO and RC had that kind of safety hatch because trust is becoming a mighty thin commodity these days.  Undecided

When Sodom and Gomorra have come inside the church, Love (not Pride) gives them a way out.
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 07:16:49 AM »

Unfortunately, most people leave their (Protestant) churches because "they don't sing the old hymns anymore" "all they sing is the old hymns" "the pastor preaches boring sermons" "I don't like red carpets".

I'm not sure how running away and abandoning a problem will help solve it. There's nothing to prevent even worse things happening when one strikes off on his own.

Jesus did warn us about wolves amongst us (Matthew 7). He also preached and prayed for unity (John 17).
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 07:17:08 AM »

Certainly a double-edged sword!
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 07:20:09 AM »

While you have the "freedom" to leave (and why can't you "leave" the RCC and the EOC/OOC again?), don't you think that more than 20 churches of one denomination in one town is a really sad result? Until I came to Orthodoxy, I thought that splinter, independent churches were awesome. Now, I see them as people who refuse to work together and start a new church out of pride. THEY know how to do it the right way, and no other church within spitting distance does.

I really don't see it as a positive thing, honestly.
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2011, 07:26:49 AM »

Very much so, but how can one stay in the wolf den and expect to be fed? I'm beginning to think the Essenes were on to something staying from the Temple.
Unfortunately, most people leave their (Protestant) churches because "they don't sing the old hymns anymore" "all they sing is the old hymns" "the pastor preaches boring sermons" "I don't like red carpets".
Yes, I call them, "idiots."

I'm not sure how running away and abandoning a problem will help solve it.
Assuming it's solvable. Are the various abuse situations solvable? I'm beginning to doubt.
There's nothing to prevent even worse things happening when one strikes off on his own.
Then you keep going.
Jesus did warn us about wolves amongst us (Matthew 7). He also preached and prayed for unity (John 17).
Unity with officials who care more about saving face than the safety of the flock? How?
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 07:31:11 AM »

I think in America we have more freedom of religious choice than many other countries in the world.  I'm not sure it's just at Orthodox vs Protestant thing.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2011, 07:33:30 AM »

(and why can't you "leave" the RCC and the EOC/OOC again?),
You can leave, but you're risking your soul according to their doctrine.

don't you think that more than 20 churches of one denomination in one town is a really sad result?
Very sad. I'm not defending 90% of church splits (the ones over petty crap), just the ones that resulted from getting away from abusers (if any of these exist).
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 07:34:31 AM »

I think in America we have more freedom of religious choice than many other countries in the world.  I'm not sure it's just at Orthodox vs Protestant thing.
Sure. But at least Protestantism allows it theologically.
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 07:37:52 AM »

I think in America we have more freedom of religious choice than many other countries in the world.  I'm not sure it's just at Orthodox vs Protestant thing.
Sure. But at least Protestantism allows it theologically.

In the last five minutes of history, perhaps. They were all burning each other at the stake ten minutes ago.

You kinda need to accept religious pluralism when you've allowed your confession to splinter to such a degree that anything else would make you look incredibly stupid.
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 07:41:08 AM »

I think in America we have more freedom of religious choice than many other countries in the world.  I'm not sure it's just at Orthodox vs Protestant thing.
Sure. But at least Protestantism allows it theologically.

In the last five minutes of history, perhaps. They were all burning each other at the stake ten minutes ago.

You kinda need to accept religious pluralism when you've allowed your confession to splinter to such a degree that anything else would make you look incredibly stupid.

Yes, historically most people didn't get to choose.  If the Lord of the manor was a Protestant then all the vassals under him were too.  The average Joe couldn't just get mad at the pastor and decide he wanted to be something else - he'd probably get his head lopped off for his troubles instead.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 07:52:36 AM »

I think in America we have more freedom of religious choice than many other countries in the world.  I'm not sure it's just at Orthodox vs Protestant thing.
Sure. But at least Protestantism allows it theologically.

In the last five minutes of history, perhaps. They were all burning each other at the stake ten minutes ago.

You kinda need to accept religious pluralism when you've allowed your confession to splinter to such a degree that anything else would make you look incredibly stupid.
There do seem to seem to have always been princes of a certain tolerance for what ever reason.

Regardless, I suppose this just points to what a blessing it is to live in this time and place. I'm sure God had special mercy on those who could not go anywhere.

Thank God for doctrinal innovation?
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2011, 07:55:02 AM »

I think in America we have more freedom of religious choice than many other countries in the world.  I'm not sure it's just at Orthodox vs Protestant thing.
Sure. But at least Protestantism allows it theologically.

In the last five minutes of history, perhaps. They were all burning each other at the stake ten minutes ago.

You kinda need to accept religious pluralism when you've allowed your confession to splinter to such a degree that anything else would make you look incredibly stupid.
There do seem to seem to have always been princes of a certain tolerance for what ever reason.

Regardless, I suppose this just points to what a blessing it is to live in this time and place. I'm sure God had special mercy on those who could not go anywhere.

Thank God for doctrinal innovation?

And yet cuius regio eius religio is a principle of international law.
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 08:11:27 AM »

There's nothing to prevent even worse things happening when one strikes off on his own.
Then you keep going.
And where does one go when "everybody else is wrong"?
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 08:29:16 AM »

There's nothing to prevent even worse things happening when one strikes off on his own.
Then you keep going.
And where does one go when "everybody else is wrong"?
Nowhere-and hope this doesn't mean the gates of hell have triumphed.
And yet cuius regio eius religio is a principle of international law.
Obviously hasn't led to you being "Australian, therefore Anglican."
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 09:07:08 AM »

I think you have raised a very difficult issue.

Let's not talk about the sort of people who get called 'spiritual gypsies', who never settle in any church for long but are constantly moving on to a different church after a short sojourn. Their reasons are not usually taken seriously.

But there are times when one feels strongly constrained to leave a church, and I think there are four principles - probably rather more than these four! - which command our thought.

1. As far as I am aware, the NT never counsels people to leave their local church, despite the heresy, immorality and tyranny we see depicted in such letters as Corinthians, John, Revelation 2-3. So I think the basic, foremost principle is to stay if one can find a way of doing so.

2. I suspect it is sometimes right to leave over doctrinal issues, but the problem is deciding which doctrines are so important and fundamental as to justify a breach of fellowship if they are abandoned or denied, and which would be better tolerated on the basis of the principle in my previous paragraph. Matters like the Trinity, the humanity and deity of Christ, the way of salvation are probably sufficiently non-negotiable as to justify separation. What of infant/believers baptism? inerrancy, predestination, a second blessing, spiritual gifts, female pastors? People separate over these: maybe even over eschatology. Here we are moving into greyer areas, and I suspect that what is non-negotiable for one person will be open to compromise for another. Deciding is not easy for a person of strong views or tender conscience.

3. Then there are splits over personal matters. People were not counselled to leave Diotrephes' church in the NT and start another in the same town. Yet I confess that my wife and I have indeed left a church over just such an issue: one man founded a church near where we live, some years before we arrived in the town, and we decided we ought to worship there if we could. When we, and perhaps a good third of the congregation, left en masse, it was not over the man's doctrines, but over how he ran the church. To liken him to Diotrephes would probably insult neither of them. He ran the church unilaterally, by decree, brooked no contradiction, and was callous to people who were hurt or troubled by his words and deeds - a bully and tyrant driven to lord it over God's flock. The 'church' seemed not Christ-centred, but centred on its founder and leader - a society for admiring him, with a religious flavour. We left. Were we wrong? I hope not, and we still attend a church at the other side of town, which we migrated to over twenty years ago after the exodus from the one I have described.

4. Finally, there are cultural reasons why people leave. Someone earlier gave the constant choice of hymn or song type as a reason. It sounds trivial; maybe it is. But what if the style of worship is perpetually such as one comes away snarling and irritated every Sunday? Is it better to leave and find somewhere more congenial? If, for example, it were a diet of the kind of singing one found grating and irritating - old fashioned hymns full of thees and thous, or mindless, shallow ditties of recent composure, or loud thumping music, or whatever - what is one to do? Happily I don't face this problem, but I know many do. Of course, it may not be the songs, but other aspects of the perceived style, such as irreverent informality or the hide-bound respectability of a bygone century.

In short, the basic principle I would urge on people is to worship in or as near as possible to their neighbourhood. We should never break fellowship for trivial, fickle reasons. But some leave with deep sorrow and much heart-searching. I do not feel I can say they are always wrong.
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2011, 09:28:03 AM »

You make some good points. I definitely wrestle with #1. Mostly I'm thinking of extreme cases of #3 (such as undealt with abuse, sexual or otherwise). This, it seems to me, is something the leaders of the RCC and the Orthodox Churches have shown themselves to be unable and/or unwilling to deal with and it makes me wonder if it should trump all considerations of theology as I consider converting to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2011, 09:38:26 AM »


(and why can't you "leave" the RCC and the EOC/OOC again?),
You can leave, but you're risking your soul according to their doctrine.

This.

I have an issue with this statement:  according to their doctrine...

It seems to me that folks jump around looking for a "church" that fits their own personal likes/dislikes....and whose doctrine fits in with their lifestyle.

Some would prefer to go to church wearing flip flops, singing and clapping their hands during service, and getting a loud boisterous feel good sermon.

Well folks, that's not a Liturgy....that's a Pep Rally!

People let their bodies pick their faith, not their souls.

According to their doctrine!

Sure, join a church that states everyone is already saved and everyone who proclaims their belief in Christ is heading for heaven!  Yippy!  I can do what I want, say what I want, be as lazy, careless, selfish as I want....and while my lips say I believe in Christ....I am SAVED!  Allelujah!

Please.

Lets take a history student for example.  They are interested and love American history.  They want to get to know it better.  Experience it better. 
Are they going to go the Museum of Modern Art to learn about it?  No.  They are going to head back to the "old" places....they go visit the reinactments, they go to Valley Forge, they marvel how people used live and govern themselves.  They pour over the old documents and they buy a feather quill at the gift shop to bring some of that nastalgic feeling home with them.

If you yearn for the True Church of God, you don't go visit the newly founded so called church around the corner.  You go back to the roots.  You read about and visit the original Church - the Orthodox Church.

Yes, it has it's "rules" such as fasting, dressing modestly, praying, helping others, being nice to others, loving God and living a Christ-like life.  However, you are not condemened if you forget to pray, or don't keep the fast.  This is between you and God.  Not you and the Church.

Escape hatch?  You need and escape hatch? 

What we need an escape hatch from is this world, with all it's corruption, lies, and games.  Our Escape Hatch is the Church.

Get to know it, get to love it....and there's no better place to be either in this world or the next.

Granted, not all Orthodox Churches or clergy are perfect.  If you happen upon a rotten apple, try to get it out of the barrel before it spoils the other apples.  However, if you've gone to the bishop, and are worried the bishop is corrupt, as well.....go to another Orthodox Church.  You've got plenty to choose from.

There is nothing to stop you from going to another Orthodox Church, except yourself and your worries.

You may find corruption everywhere in this world.  The Church is not of this world....but, the people in it are.

Don't leave the Church because you've encountered some bad apples.

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« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2011, 09:41:19 AM »

You make some good points. I definitely wrestle with #1. Mostly I'm thinking of extreme cases of #3 (such as undealt with abuse, sexual or otherwise). This, it seems to me, is something the leaders of the RCC and the Orthodox Churches have shown themselves to be unable and/or unwilling to deal with and it makes me wonder if it should trump all considerations of theology as I consider converting to Orthodoxy.

I cannot speak for the RC, but, why do you say the Orthodox Church is unwilling to deal with abuse?

Again, keep in mind.... one church and one Bishop....do not constitute the Church.

I've heard of misbehaviour, but, it certainly is not running rampant throughout the Orthodox Church.

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« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2011, 10:57:46 AM »

You make some good points. I definitely wrestle with #1. Mostly I'm thinking of extreme cases of #3 (such as undealt with abuse, sexual or otherwise). This, it seems to me, is something the leaders of the RCC and the Orthodox Churches have shown themselves to be unable and/or unwilling to deal with and it makes me wonder if it should trump all considerations of theology as I consider converting to Orthodoxy.

I cannot speak for the RC, but, why do you say the Orthodox Church is unwilling to deal with abuse?

Again, keep in mind.... one church and one Bishop....do not constitute the Church.

I've heard of misbehaviour, but, it certainly is not running rampant throughout the Orthodox Church.


How many times in recent memory have bishops and abbots all across the globe been caught with their hands in the coffers? How many sex abuse cases are there? Not as many as the RC but definitely in the triple digits at least. Spend some time looking through pokrov.org They say right there on the site, they have never seen Church leaders adequately handle an abuse case. In fact in advocacy circles it's practically axiomatic-[i]do not go to Church authorities first. Do not meet with them alone.[/i] Yes, Orthodoxy's woes are on a smaller scale, but things do seem to be just as rotten. Just ask some of our Russian or Greek about how wonderful their hierarchies are too.

Sure, join a church that states everyone is already saved and everyone who proclaims their belief in Christ is heading for heaven!  Yippy!  I can do what I want, say what I want, be as lazy, careless, selfish as I want....and while my lips say I believe in Christ....I am SAVED!  Allelujah!
Really? This old saw? Classic Protestant theology has always maintained that a faith which produces no works is a false faith. Antinomianism has only in the past couple of decades crept in from the fringe via Zane Hodges and Charles Stanley and it's still a far minority view among people with two or more brain cells.

Lets take a history student for example.  They are interested and love American history.  They want to get to know it better.  Experience it better. 
Are they going to go the Museum of Modern Art to learn about it?  No.  They are going to head back to the "old" places....they go visit the reinactments, they go to Valley Forge, they marvel how people used live and govern themselves.  They pour over the old documents and they buy a feather quill at the gift shop to bring some of that nastalgic feeling home with them.

If you yearn for the True Church of God, you don't go visit the newly founded so called church around the corner.  You go back to the roots.  You read about and visit the original Church - the Orthodox Church.
Yes, some idea of an invisible Church would be needed here, but if the Orthodox Church is completely corrupt then I'm choosing that over the idea that Christ lied about His Church enduring.

Granted, not all Orthodox Churches or clergy are perfect.  If you happen upon a rotten apple, try to get it out of the barrel before it spoils the other apples.  However, if you've gone to the bishop, and are worried the bishop is corrupt, as well.....go to another Orthodox Church.  You've got plenty to choose from.

There is nothing to stop you from going to another Orthodox Church, except yourself and your worries.
I hope you're right. I rather have my doubts though.
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2011, 11:34:09 AM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2011, 11:42:16 AM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.
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« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2011, 11:50:28 AM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

so are you saying that if one parish priest or one bishop is a scoundrel then the whole Orthodox church unworthy?
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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2011, 11:52:00 AM »

What? I want examples. How would staying in a "completely corrupt" Orthodox church FORCE us to sin?

And by the way, this reminds me of a story of a woman at our last church. She had a tumultuous relationship with the pastor (I think he was controlling certain aspects of her life or something), and when she wanted to leave, someone told her, "But if you leave, who's going to pray for him to change and actually stand up to him?"

Now, I don't know if I quite agree with that, but in theory, there is a point to it. We make up the church. So if we so-called "good" people leave the "corrupt" true Church without influencing it and praying for the imperfect clergy, what's left? We'll start our own churches and the cycle will repeat again. The splinters keep happening and happening. There is no church that is "happily settled" and at the end of the line. People keep creating and creating and moving and breaking off and creating. (And I'm not just even talking about within churches; I am talking about denominations in general)

Where is the unity in that? Where is the striving in that?

Question, do you think that we are all in the Orthodox Church or choosing the Orthodox Church because we like to be trapped?
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2011, 12:03:00 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

so are you saying that if one parish priest or one bishop is a scoundrel then the whole Orthodox church unworthy?
No, when almost all of them are to the extent that one can't even let them near their children.
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2011, 12:10:42 PM »

What? I want examples. How would staying in a "completely corrupt" Orthodox church FORCE us to sin?
When the only alternative left is not going to church at all and breaking the command in Hebrews to assemble together.

And by the way, this reminds me of a story of a woman at our last church. She had a tumultuous relationship with the pastor (I think he was controlling certain aspects of her life or something), and when she wanted to leave, someone told her, "But if you leave, who's going to pray for him to change and actually stand up to him?"

Now, I don't know if I quite agree with that, but in theory, there is a point to it. We make up the church. So if we so-called "good" people leave the "corrupt" true Church without influencing it and praying for the imperfect clergy, what's left? We'll start our own churches and the cycle will repeat again. The splinters keep happening and happening. There is no church that is "happily settled" and at the end of the line. People keep creating and creating and moving and breaking off and creating. (And I'm not just even talking about within churches; I am talking about denominations in general)

Where is the unity in that? Where is the striving in that?
I'm not saying splintering should be done lightly and I'm not saying it will lead to some kind of perfect Church (which can't exist). I'm just it's sometimes a necessary evil but in Orthodoxy it's forbidden.

Question, do you think that we are all in the Orthodox Church or choosing the Orthodox Church because we like to be trapped?
Certainly not. You just chose to accept it as a necessary part of the package. I'm not sure I can do that.
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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2011, 12:22:15 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

Intolerable? By who's standard? You don't get to judge the Church and neither do any of us. Why are you the arbiter of what is or isn't tolerable? You are called to be a part of it and participate in it no matter what; that is reality. Just because it doesn't fit your sensibilities you can't throw it away. We all are error, clergy included. That doesn't make the Church any less. It should only humble us further.
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« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2011, 12:28:54 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

Intolerable? By who's standard? You don't get to judge the Church and neither do any of us. Why are you the arbiter of what is or isn't tolerable? You are called to be a part of it and participate in it no matter what; that is reality. Just because it doesn't fit your sensibilities you can't throw it away. We all are error, clergy included. That doesn't make the Church any less. It should only humble us further.
I'm not talking about doctrinal errors, I'm talking about rampant sexual and financial scandals. Who can grow in Christ in such an environment?
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« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2011, 12:48:35 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

Intolerable? By who's standard? You don't get to judge the Church and neither do any of us. Why are you the arbiter of what is or isn't tolerable? You are called to be a part of it and participate in it no matter what; that is reality. Just because it doesn't fit your sensibilities you can't throw it away. We all are error, clergy included. That doesn't make the Church any less. It should only humble us further.
I'm not talking about doctrinal errors, I'm talking about rampant sexual and financial scandals. Who can grow in Christ in such an environment?

Is the environment better outside the Church? If we did church all alone with just our Bible, don't we have just as much vileness inside ourselves? I mean I sympathize with where you're coming from but the actions of hierarches can't change how and why we worship. We're not there to validate them and they don't validate us, however, the Apostles set the Church up a certain way. That way included using fallible, sinful humans as leaders. We can't become disillusioned when people, even Bishops/Priests, act like people.

This is almost like Donatism which said a Priests sinfulness effects the sacraments he performs. That was condemned as heresy. The moral worthiness of a Bishop/Priest has nothing to do with the validity of the Church.
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« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2011, 12:51:58 PM »

How many sex abuse cases are there? Not as many as the RC but definitely in the triple digits at least. Spend some time looking through pokrov.org They say right there on the site, they have never seen Church leaders adequately handle an abuse case. In fact in advocacy circles it's practically axiomatic-[i]do not go to Church authorities first. Do not meet with them alone.[/i] Yes, Orthodoxy's woes are on a smaller scale, but things do seem to be just as rotten. Just ask some of our Russian or Greek about how wonderful their hierarchies are too.
Why do you believe pokrov.org a credible source of information?
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« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2011, 12:52:30 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

On the contrary, true Orthodox ecclesiology is Eucharistic, not organizational. The local assembly, gathered around their bishop, is the One Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church. It would be better to speak about the Orthodox Communion than the "Orthodox Church." For the Church is manifested on the local level, each one around its bishop complete and full, lacking nothing. Churches, then, are in communion with one another for mutual support on the external level. The organizational aspect does not constitute the ontology of the Church.
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« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2011, 12:59:10 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

On the contrary, true Orthodox ecclesiology is Eucharistic, not organizational. The local assembly, gathered around their bishop, is the One Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church. It would be better to speak about the Orthodox Communion than the "Orthodox Church." For the Church is manifested on the local level, each one around its bishop complete and full, lacking nothing. Churches, then, are in communion with one another for mutual support on the external level. The organizational aspect does not constitute the ontology of the Church.

Good point. I didn't think about that.
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« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2011, 01:00:09 PM »

Classic Protestant theology

It's an oxymoron.
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« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2011, 02:02:43 PM »

I'm not talking about doctrinal errors, I'm talking about rampant sexual and financial scandals. Who can grow in Christ in such an environment?

Haven't read much of the Lives of the Saints yet, eh? Wink
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« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2011, 02:29:02 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

You're doing a good job complaining in this thread. Do you think you'd be unable to keep at it, at an even higher frequency, if your Orthodox bishop protects abusers or commits other crimes? Read church history. People did not give up Orthodoxy even when the emperor and the patriarch were heretics. They even organized mobs and riots--regrettable, but they didn't have legal recourse back then. Bishops were deposed by force, emperors were torn apart in the streets. Nowadays we have nasty lawsuits, angry telephone calls, protests, etc--all pretty effective. Also today, there's a lot of trumped-up hype to make people angry and, therefore useless. God will not leave the Church without good bishops. It's His Church, and he's jealous of it. There have been times when many bad bishops nearly destroyed the Church, but then they suddenly died. The Church is saved by God, who has and probably will again, help her through the timely deaths of her misguiding bishops.
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« Reply #34 on: July 27, 2011, 02:31:44 PM »

scandal and human failings are in every Christian tradition on earth.  If that is your primary criteria for joining any church you will have a hard time indeed.
Exactly. But Orthodox theology assumes the Church is one visible organization. If that organization becomes intolerable, where are we to turn? The only recourse is "staying home," which is sinful-but I don't believe God would put anyone in a situation where they have to sin.

Intolerable? By who's standard? You don't get to judge the Church and neither do any of us. Why are you the arbiter of what is or isn't tolerable? You are called to be a part of it and participate in it no matter what; that is reality. Just because it doesn't fit your sensibilities you can't throw it away. We all are error, clergy included. That doesn't make the Church any less. It should only humble us further.
I'm not talking about doctrinal errors, I'm talking about rampant sexual and financial scandals. Who can grow in Christ in such an environment?

This is said by someone who is clearly outside of the Orthodox church.  Yes, I know you're still an inquirer, but this statement makes it pretty obvious.  I don't know what you're talking about.  You seem to be seeing a boogie man behind every tree.  I entered the Orthodox church in the OCA during the financial scandal... I still didn't find it as bad as the nightmare you seem to think it was.  Yes, it was unfortunate, yes it was sad and disappointing.  But I belong to a local parish and on a Sunday morning it just didn't come up during Liturgy and rarely effected my daily life as an Orthodox christian.... unless I went hunting for it on the internet.  Did I want Met. Herman gone - you bet.  Did I want the scandal to go away - of course.  But, I never once felt that because of this unfortunate blip on the radar that the whole church was filled with "rampant sexual and financial scandals".   I recommend you stay away from places like pokrov.org ... they may serve a useful service to a point... but they are also there to  sensationalize.  
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« Reply #35 on: July 27, 2011, 02:36:24 PM »

For the record, with all the people who have been telling me that I have "freedom in Christ" for the past 5 or 6 years, I feel like I'm truly free in Christ now. I don't need an "escape hatch." That's what the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are, even when the Church looks like it's a mess.

(Hopefully this mindset will continue for the rest of my life! Wink )
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« Reply #36 on: July 27, 2011, 02:37:35 PM »

You make some good points. I definitely wrestle with #1. Mostly I'm thinking of extreme cases of #3 (such as undealt with abuse, sexual or otherwise). This, it seems to me, is something the leaders of the RCC and the Orthodox Churches have shown themselves to be unable and/or unwilling to deal with and it makes me wonder if it should trump all considerations of theology as I consider converting to Orthodoxy.

I cannot speak for the RC, but, why do you say the Orthodox Church is unwilling to deal with abuse?

Again, keep in mind.... one church and one Bishop....do not constitute the Church.

I've heard of misbehaviour, but, it certainly is not running rampant throughout the Orthodox Church.


How many times in recent memory have bishops and abbots all across the globe been caught with their hands in the coffers? How many sex abuse cases are there? Not as many as the RC but definitely in the triple digits at least. Spend some time looking through pokrov.org They say right there on the site, they have never seen Church leaders adequately handle an abuse case. In fact in advocacy circles it's practically axiomatic-[i]do not go to Church authorities first. Do not meet with them alone.[/i] Yes, Orthodoxy's woes are on a smaller scale, but things do seem to be just as rotten. Just ask some of our Russian or Greek about how wonderful their hierarchies are too.

Sure, join a church that states everyone is already saved and everyone who proclaims their belief in Christ is heading for heaven!  Yippy!  I can do what I want, say what I want, be as lazy, careless, selfish as I want....and while my lips say I believe in Christ....I am SAVED!  Allelujah!
Really? This old saw? Classic Protestant theology has always maintained that a faith which produces no works is a false faith. Antinomianism has only in the past couple of decades crept in from the fringe via Zane Hodges and Charles Stanley and it's still a far minority view among people with two or more brain cells.

Lets take a history student for example.  They are interested and love American history.  They want to get to know it better.  Experience it better. 
Are they going to go the Museum of Modern Art to learn about it?  No.  They are going to head back to the "old" places....they go visit the reinactments, they go to Valley Forge, they marvel how people used live and govern themselves.  They pour over the old documents and they buy a feather quill at the gift shop to bring some of that nastalgic feeling home with them.

If you yearn for the True Church of God, you don't go visit the newly founded so called church around the corner.  You go back to the roots.  You read about and visit the original Church - the Orthodox Church.
Yes, some idea of an invisible Church would be needed here, but if the Orthodox Church is completely corrupt then I'm choosing that over the idea that Christ lied about His Church enduring.

Granted, not all Orthodox Churches or clergy are perfect.  If you happen upon a rotten apple, try to get it out of the barrel before it spoils the other apples.  However, if you've gone to the bishop, and are worried the bishop is corrupt, as well.....go to another Orthodox Church.  You've got plenty to choose from.

There is nothing to stop you from going to another Orthodox Church, except yourself and your worries.
I hope you're right. I rather have my doubts though.

Why do you judge the clergy more harshly than yourself? See to becoming a saint yourself, then maybe those who aren't saints will follow your example. Until you can accept the blame for your neighbor's sin because of your lack of virtue, you have no business pointing at his sins. In the Orthodox Church, there is an established order for dealing with clergy who create scandal. A priest is corrected by his bishop, and a bishop by the synod of bishops. If someone is victimized or if someone knows of an incident, they seek justice. But general moral indignation is not, I don't think, profitable for anyone. Lots of morally indignant people ended up being condemned by Christ.
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« Reply #37 on: July 27, 2011, 02:40:48 PM »

Volunutt.  You seem to be trusting in princes and sons of men.  I want to encourage you trust in God and in His Church.  He does not abandon us and He has left us this glorious and wonderful gift of the Orthodox church. It is there to care for us and bring us to salvation.  Part of that is dealing with the mess that is the human condition, there is no way around that bit.  But the Church always rights Herself.   Instead of reading from pokrov.org, read about the lives of saints who suffered cruelly under church leaders.  See how they clung to the Truth and helped bring the Church back from error.

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« Reply #38 on: July 27, 2011, 02:45:31 PM »

Volunutt.  You seem to be trusting in princes and sons of men.  I want to encourage you trust in God and in His Church.  He does not abandon us and He has left us this glorious and wonderful gift of the Orthodox church. It is there to care for us and bring us to salvation.  Part of that is dealing with the mess that is the human condition, there is no way around that bit.  But the Church always rights Herself.   Instead of reading from pokrov.org, read about the lives of saints who suffered cruelly under church leaders.  See how they clung to the Truth and helped bring the Church back from error.



I was so torn up in jurisdictional/calendar debates and always reading polemical websites, but once I did what PM suggests above (reading the lives of the Saints) a lot of that became of no interest to me. 
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« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2011, 02:47:30 PM »

I agree to some extent about Pokrov. Do you know any of the people personally or the stories behind what's happened? Don't stress yourself out (not that you shouldn't report abuse where it happens. Of course you should.) about it. There are some vague accusations and some things that are questionable (putting a priest who had a supposedly consensual affair on a website for VICTIMS?).

Don't dwell on that too much or else you are going to drive yourself crazy. Been there.


PS Have you attended a service yet? (Sorry, I really don't know.) Maybe try that first before accusing a list of names of soiling the Church as a whole?
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« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2011, 03:10:46 PM »

The argument concerning the scandals and not being able to grow spiritually is a Non sequitur as the same can be said for any Protestant denomination. From Jimmy Swaggart's "I have sinned!" act to Ergun Caner knowingly fabricating his "islamic extremist" past.

Every stripe and color of Christian has sinned in a multitude of ways. Remember, Christianity started out with a scandal (Judas betraying the Lord).

You dont join (or not join) a church because of what the people have done, but by the truth it teaches.

The Church is not a country club for saints, but a hospital for sinners.

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« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2011, 03:36:53 PM »

Historically, when the leadership has been corrupt, men like St. Maximus the confessor resisted, even accepted excommunication, but didn't go off and form their own new church. Many times, communities refuse to obey or commune corrupt hierarchs and enter into de-facto schism because of this. Often times this is only temporary (see majority of ROCOR).

But ROCOR didn't start a new church.

Trying to escape humans acting human by starting your own little dualist heresy (crappy humans down there, saints up here) isn't the answer. It's also why I could never be an anabaptist.
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« Reply #42 on: July 27, 2011, 04:38:55 PM »

I'd say that in the Orthodox Church you "protest" by changing parish, or diocese, or, in the case of the West, even jurisdictions.

If you know that a priest or bishop is acting abusevely, but not criminally (in which case you should be calling the police if you have proof), then the first thing is to think how would you deal with it if it were your father or your mother. Would you simply "divorce" from them? Or would try to find an arrangement in which the relation still exists although not in an ideal form? Of course, it all depends on the kind of abuse. This is sufficient to understand why so many people cover up even crimes for priests or bishops. Let's say you find out one of your parents had committed a crime. If you found out that your grandfather touched your kid-nephew 20 years ago would you send him to a retirement house far from kids or would you really deliver him to the cops to be sent to a prison and probably he himself be molested there? Would you really denounce him/her with indifference? Or would you try to put him/her in a position that crime was no longer committed and bury the incident?

I'm not justifying it, but just trying to show the depth of the moral storm that happens inside the people who have to make the right choice about it. I know that if I were the authority supervising the criminal I would take the tough measures.

But back to the non-criminal abuses. Are we to advise kids to leave their parents because they are rude, stubborn or sing old songs? Are we to tell kids to leave their parents because their parents don't leave up to the nobility of this calling (again, not criminal, but maybe bossy, maybe ignorant, maybe didn't really want to be in that position).

If the problem is too undealable, yes, the person changes parishes, not religion. The reason we can't change parishes that often and Protestants can, is because here in the Americas you have many Roman, Baptist, Assemblies of God etc churches in most cities and towns, while, in those cities that do have Orthodox parishes, chances are you have just one or two. You can't change parishes because mostly there aren't any other. I suspect that in Orthodox countries people changing parishes is something more common than here in the Americas.
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« Reply #43 on: July 27, 2011, 07:01:07 PM »

I think another response to the OP might be this: what are the fruits of separating from the mother church? Harmony, or more disunity? When we leave the mother church, it is not the same as leaving a mother and father and cleaving to a wife. Leaving the "corrupt" church behind is not part of "growing up" as a Christian. It is more like a divorce, tearing asunder what God has knit together. Leaving the mother church makes reconciliation much more difficult. (Please understand, there is only one Church -- Orthodoxy -- so the idea of "mother church" is flawed, unless it is Orthodoxy that we mean by that term.)

In my youth, I witnessed 3 splits in the Protestant church community my family belonged to. Which of those branches was pure and holy? Forgiveness and repentance are the only means of holiness. Chasing some ideal of purity is no such means. That ideal of purity, I am now beginning to question even as satanic. That spirit is a cruel master that enslaves and destroys souls through compulsive religiosity. One thing I certainly do not miss from my Pre-Catholic days as an Evangelical was a terror of being contaminated by the world.
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« Reply #44 on: July 27, 2011, 07:54:38 PM »

greetings in that divine and most precious name of our lord and savior jesus christ!

The recent bull**** in Ireland has made me realize something. Protestantism has a real blessing-the ability to leave. You don't have to deal with a hierarchy or pastor when it's corrupt and self-serving and refuses to let justice be done, to show love. You can kick the dust off your shoes and not have any earthly connection to whatever pig in a cassock (or suit and tie) who laid his sick hands on your child or monk who's scamming money from people or the money-whore bishops or denominational leaders or church boards who hide them from accountability.


I think you are reading it backwards.  Protestantism allows people to walk away, but real life doesn't.  Just because you leave a problem doesn't make it go away, if anything in time in only exasperates the situation worse!  Further, in real life we can't walk away or abandon or problems, the only way to really do that is suicide Sad  No, God forces us in our existence to accept our limits in reality and so the seeming flaws and problems within our Churches are just a manifestation of this same principle. As in all events of our lives, God is really in all control, so when things get the harshest and make the least sense, these are the moments when we can't run away but rather in God's Grace but stand there in prayer, and even sometimes run towards to flames to help extinguish them in Love.

really you are just rephrasing the question, "why do bad things happen to good people?" and we know the answer is that "who knows? its up to God in all things and to God we must turn in all things."



stay blessed,
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