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Author Topic: "Why I'm Not Orthodox"  (Read 5382 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 19, 2011, 10:46:59 PM »

http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1997/january6/7t1032.html

Thanks to Ismi for the tip off on the article. Anybody have anything to comment on this?
« Last Edit: August 19, 2011, 10:48:01 PM by Achronos » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2011, 11:03:36 PM »

Quote
Protestant theologian Adolf von Harnack once described the Orthodox church as "in her entire structure alien to the Gospel and a perversion of the Christian religion, its reduction to the level of pagan antiquity."

Oh dear. Oh, this won't do at all.  Tongue
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2011, 11:13:38 PM »

Quote
Protestant theologian Adolf von Harnack once described the Orthodox church as "in her entire structure alien to the Gospel and a perversion of the Christian religion, its reduction to the level of pagan antiquity."

Oh dear. Oh, this won't do at all.  Tongue
That grabbed my attention from skimming through the article.

What I dont understand is the last bit of article where he states he would rather embrace his evangelical beliefs. What I don't understand is how come he avoids the amount of historical evidence which is so contrary to evangilsm in protestantism today?
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2011, 11:18:52 PM »


Here's a good dissection of that very article:

http://www.roca.org/OA/149/149p.htm

...

So just what faith is it that Clendenin is contending for? For one thing, it is a faith which makes a habit of citing fragments of Scripture out of context, and Clendenin's use of Jude 3 serves as a fine example of this questionable method of determining and defending one's faith. If Clendenin had finished quoting the sentence, it would be clear that the Apostle Jude was speaking of the Orthodox Faith rather than an innovative Protestantism, for the brother of our Lord here speaks not of any faith, but specifically and pointedly of "the faith once delivered to the saints." This cannot be a faith based on Reformed theology of the sixteenth century; rather, it is the Apostolic faith transmitted ("delivered") to the first Christians. This transmission of the true faith is what the Church means by Sacred Tradition.

...

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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2011, 11:22:03 PM »

That grabbed my attention from skimming through the article.

I'd suggest reading the whole thing carefully rather than judging it based on "skimming through".  

It's actually very well written and thoughtful.  Ultimately the author's reason for not becoming Orthodox is that he is committed to the basic doctrines of Protestantism (sola scriptura), yet you can see that it's a struggle since he admires much of the strength of Orthodoxy and respects the tradition.

But he just can't accept it without rejecting things that he thinks are non-negotiable.  

I think it's a pretty good article, well worth reading if only to get a better understanding of what Protestants struggle with when confronted with historical Christianity.
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2011, 11:26:39 PM »

That grabbed my attention from skimming through the article.

I'd suggest reading the whole thing carefully rather than judging it based on "skimming through".  

It's actually very well written and thoughtful.  Ultimately the author's reason for not becoming Orthodox is that he is committed to the basic doctrines of Protestantism (sola scriptura), yet you can see that it's a struggle since he admires much of the strength of Orthodoxy and respects the tradition.

But he just can't accept it without rejecting things that he thinks are non-negotiable.  

I think it's a pretty good article, well worth reading if only to get a better understanding of what Protestants struggle with when confronted with historical Christianity.

Many Protestants have converted by coming to the realization one sola at a time, that the five solas do not stand up to scrutiny.
Yes, it is a painful, but liberating process.
There is still hope for this fellow.
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2011, 11:31:52 PM »


Here's a good dissection of that very article:

http://www.roca.org/OA/149/149p.htm

...

So just what faith is it that Clendenin is contending for? For one thing, it is a faith which makes a habit of citing fragments of Scripture out of context, and Clendenin's use of Jude 3 serves as a fine example of this questionable method of determining and defending one's faith. If Clendenin had finished quoting the sentence, it would be clear that the Apostle Jude was speaking of the Orthodox Faith rather than an innovative Protestantism, for the brother of our Lord here speaks not of any faith, but specifically and pointedly of "the faith once delivered to the saints." This cannot be a faith based on Reformed theology of the sixteenth century; rather, it is the Apostolic faith transmitted ("delivered") to the first Christians. This transmission of the true faith is what the Church means by Sacred Tradition.

...



I love this bit
Quote
Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her liturgical books, of the Old and New Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers - what would happen? Sacred Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps - the verbal form might be different - but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of that same "faith which was once delivered unto the saints." They would be the expression of the one and only Holy Spirit continuously active in the Church, her foundation and her very substance.*

That is a very true statement.

That grabbed my attention from skimming through the article.

I'd suggest reading the whole thing carefully rather than judging it based on "skimming through".  

It's actually very well written and thoughtful.  Ultimately the author's reason for not becoming Orthodox is that he is committed to the basic doctrines of Protestantism (sola scriptura), yet you can see that it's a struggle since he admires much of the strength of Orthodoxy and respects the tradition.

But he just can't accept it without rejecting things that he thinks are non-negotiable.  

I think it's a pretty good article, well worth reading if only to get a better understanding of what Protestants struggle with when confronted with historical Christianity.

I wasn't dismissing him based upon someone else's quote. I actually agree with you that it is a very well done article, however his biases ultimately get in the way.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2011, 11:32:03 PM by Achronos » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2011, 11:32:47 PM »

I've read 3/4 of the article. It's far better than the usual tripe. Basically he prefers Protestant theology.. So what?
For example, he understands "The Church" to be an invisible community of believers and we understand The Church to be the actual physical Church...    etc etc etc
  
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2011, 11:39:15 PM »

http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1997/january6/7t1032.html

Thanks to Ismi for the tip off on the article. Anybody have anything to comment on this?
The last sentence of the article explains why he has not converted to E. Orthodoxy: "Because I am committed to key distinctives of the Protestant evangelical tradition."
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2011, 11:55:12 PM »

I've read 3/4 of the article. It's far better than the usual tripe. Basically he prefers Protestant theology.. So what?
For example, he understands "The Church" to be an invisible community of believers and we understand The Church to be the actual physical Church...    etc etc etc
  

It reminds me of what my father told me 2 weeks ago when I asked him where is the one true Church, and he said that any church can be true if they remain with their hermunetics or something like that.
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« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2011, 10:51:05 PM »

I'd respond to each point but I am at work and don't have the time unfourtnately. Maybe later.
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2011, 09:54:32 AM »

Very good discussion. Indeed, the argument about "early Christinas" does not fly; there is no reason to remain in diapers, ignoring the history of the Church.

In my personal interaction with the Heterodox (mostly my students at the university, plus a few professors) the main point made against becoming Orthodox usually is, "I am already happy where I am." People with a conservative (especially Southern Baptist) background are happy in their sola-based communities. People with more liberal, "progressist" mindset find their niche in the Episcopal Church or in PC(USA). I never sensed much interest to the history of the Church in those with whom I conversed, and there seems to be no fear of either being in, or moving into, something that is "untrue." The arguments are, rather, from the standpoint of pluralism, like, "well, yes, your Orthodox Church is an ineresting little thingy, a bit exotic but okay, so you be there, good for you, but I will stick to my church, which is also interesting and also true." Americans... "You made your choice, I made mine, and we are both fine..."
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2011, 12:25:04 PM »

A little ironic with the title of Clendenin's article is that these two books, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective and Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader , are the first 2 books I read on my journey from protestantism to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2011, 01:17:55 PM »

When God gave the Commandments to the Israelites, where had they just left?

Egypt.

What religion did Egypt follow at the time?

Polytheism, paganism.

What did the gods of ancient Egypt look like?

They had heads of animals- birds, which lived in the sky; jackals, which lived on Earth; fish, which lived in the sea. And so on.

What does the Commandment tell us not to do?

Make graven images of and worship strange gods. Strange, meaning foreign.

Anybody with a lick of sense can tell that God was warning the Israelites not to fall into the paganism of the country they had just left. He was not telling them they could not make images in honor of the True God, because you run into that thing about the Ark of the Covenant with the cherubim on it, and the cherubim live in Heaven. You remember that, right?

When did Moses destroy the first set of tablets and make new ones?

After he saw the Israelites worshiping a golden calf, an idol they made on an Egyptian model. He destroyed the tablets and then the calf, and got the second set of tablets after he went back up the mountain.

However, Moses did not destroy the Ark of the Covenant, with its images of the angels in Heaven. Why? Because God told them to make that, and it was used to carry other holy objects in it as well.

If it wasn't okay to build the Ark, then God was contradicting himself when he gave people the orders to build it. And you can't have God contradict Himself.

So, obviously, you need to read for comprehension.
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2011, 03:47:49 PM »

For me personally, "why I'm not Orthodox" is many reasons, but perhaps largely - it is the perception that Eastern Orthodoxy leaves it as a primarily intellectual exercise for people (of no faith, non-Christian, or "other Christian" faith) to convert to it.  The way it seems to go is, I would meet with a priest, schedule some classes at the local parish with other inquirers, be assigned hundreds of pages of theology books to read, and through study and indoctrination (that word not used in a negative sense, just recognizing that is a 'feeding' of doctrine into one's mind where it isn't already), become convinced of the historical and theological claims the Orthodox Church makes for itself.  The Orthodox Church makes bold truth claims, but does not go about evangelizing as if the truth really matters *that* much.  It's like the Church recognizes that only people (and a small number at that) of a certain advanced mental capacity can make proper converts, and this is at the convert's initiative.  Never mind that, for some one like me, one could just as well go to the Roman Catholics and become convinced of their claims through the same method of study and indoctrinating.   I feel that I am outside of (specifically below) this mental capacity to actually decide that *one* of the historic apostolic Church(es) is truly and absolutely correct.  Because the broad, over-arching claims and principles of evangelical Christianity are (or at least aspire to be) limited to what is precisely contained in the Holy Scriptures, the truth of Christianity seems more attainable there.  Not the absolute truth it its entirety, but in the essentials of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for salvation for starters, and (yes unfortunately, but at least the ground is there) progressively interpretational after that point.  The Orthodox might win points on Eucharistic theology (because of a more literal reading of the Scriptures, I am inclined to accept the "true body and true blood" belief), but since the Catholics have that too, the problem of "which?" remains.

The Orthodox can argue it is necessary to be in the Church (i.e. the Orthodox Church) in order to be "grafted into His one Body", but for the life of me I can not think of myself capable of deciding that the Orthodox Church is truly this *One* Body, and *not* the Roman Catholic Church, for example.  Asking me to read hundreds of pages of theology text to be convinced by reason of truth claims, when I could just as well go to the Catholics for a like hundreds of pages of theology reading, just seems ultimately off-putting.  Now personally, I like the Orthodox services and appearance of humility and piety more than what I might see of the Roman Catholic, but that is only appearances and ultimately superficial, if - let's just imagine - a militant atheist authority swept into national power and immediately forbade all public worship, going as far as desecrating and bulldozing all Christian churches of all denominations... then what of how, where, to find the truth?  An outrageous leap of thought yes, but it's to highlight my dilemma, that if the outer 'trappings' of Eastern Orthodoxy is what appeals to me, how to separate that from the necessity of a solid conviction of faith that could withstand the external expressions of worship removed?

I'm not sure how this relates to the Daniel Clendenin article (I did read it) - maybe something in my rumination toward a "simpler" process of coming to faith being one of the Evangelical distinctives?
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2011, 04:05:52 PM »

Aaron,

I share in your struggles in regards to the Orthodox Church, I too have felt alienated as a catechumen and that all the initiative is on me, I sometimes wish the priest would send me an email just to check up on me if I haven't emailed him for a few weeks but obviously my request is unreasonable considering the time, work etc.

In regards to EO vs RC, I would bring up history but you said you aren't at the mental capacity to really discern between the historical pieces of the Church so I'm not sure how much that will help. Maybe start with the papacy and find out how it evolved to what it is today in the RC; take it bit by bit.

You say that Evangelicals have the essentials of the faith, whilst this may be the case, however let's take for example the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. While the NT may allude to it, the Bible doesn't explicitly say it. It is simply naive to suggest that one can just take the NT and spend 20 years alone with it and emerge with the Holy Trinity. Look at the heresies that come from just one person's interpretation of the Bible, like the Rapture and dispensationalism. There are those in the history of the Church who worked out the Holy Trinity doctrine and I believe we owe our respects to them.

Also if you look in history you will find that there was only one Church and it was united. It had a heriachy of priests, deacons and bishops and I would say the Christians of the first 1000 years all believed in the Eucharist, which no Evangelical group can lay claim to.

Let me ask you a question, do you think we can actually have communion with God outside of prayer?
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2011, 04:14:28 PM »

For me personally, "why I'm not Orthodox" is many reasons, but perhaps largely - it is the perception that Eastern Orthodoxy leaves it as a primarily intellectual exercise for people (of no faith, non-Christian, or "other Christian" faith) to convert to it.  The way it seems to go is, I would meet with a priest, schedule some classes at the local parish with other inquirers, be assigned hundreds of pages of theology books to read, and through study and indoctrination (that word not used in a negative sense, just recognizing that is a 'feeding' of doctrine into one's mind where it isn't already), become convinced of the historical and theological claims the Orthodox Church makes for itself.  The Orthodox Church makes bold truth claims, but does not go about evangelizing as if the truth really matters *that* much.  It's like the Church recognizes that only people (and a small number at that) of a certain advanced mental capacity can make proper converts, and this is at the convert's initiative.  Never mind that, for some one like me, one could just as well go to the Roman Catholics and become convinced of their claims through the same method of study and indoctrinating.   I feel that I am outside of (specifically below) this mental capacity to actually decide that *one* of the historic apostolic Church(es) is truly and absolutely correct.  Because the broad, over-arching claims and principles of evangelical Christianity are (or at least aspire to be) limited to what is precisely contained in the Holy Scriptures, the truth of Christianity seems more attainable there.  Not the absolute truth it its entirety, but in the essentials of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for salvation for starters, and (yes unfortunately, but at least the ground is there) progressively interpretational after that point.  The Orthodox might win points on Eucharistic theology (because of a more literal reading of the Scriptures, I am inclined to accept the "true body and true blood" belief), but since the Catholics have that too, the problem of "which?" remains.

The Orthodox can argue it is necessary to be in the Church (i.e. the Orthodox Church) in order to be "grafted into His one Body", but for the life of me I can not think of myself capable of deciding that the Orthodox Church is truly this *One* Body, and *not* the Roman Catholic Church, for example.  Asking me to read hundreds of pages of theology text to be convinced by reason of truth claims, when I could just as well go to the Catholics for a like hundreds of pages of theology reading, just seems ultimately off-putting.  Now personally, I like the Orthodox services and appearance of humility and piety more than what I might see of the Roman Catholic, but that is only appearances and ultimately superficial, if - let's just imagine - a militant atheist authority swept into national power and immediately forbade all public worship, going as far as desecrating and bulldozing all Christian churches of all denominations... then what of how, where, to find the truth?  An outrageous leap of thought yes, but it's to highlight my dilemma, that if the outer 'trappings' of Eastern Orthodoxy is what appeals to me, how to separate that from the necessity of a solid conviction of faith that could withstand the external expressions of worship removed?

I'm not sure how this relates to the Daniel Clendenin article (I did read it) - maybe something in my rumination toward a "simpler" process of coming to faith being one of the Evangelical distinctives?
I disagree. Evangelicalism is just as strenuous as Orthodoxy, especially when one comes at it from a prior position of agnosticism about God. The Trinity, the deity and humanity of Christ, Scripture (inspiration issues and how this relates to issues of "inerrancy" and "Bible contradictions," textual criticism), science and theology issues, theodicy, God's Sovereignty and foreknowledge vis a vis human will, general philosophical issues regarding the possibility of God's existence, evidence for the Resurrection... All of these things require intellectual heavy lifting from the Evangelical to come to an informed opinion on and in some cases even to make sure one is not in heresy- and we haven't even touched on all the minor issues that go into choosing a denomination. These are just the basics of a well informed Christian theology.

Does one "need" all this to be saved? Of course not. A cradle Orthodox who possesses an unexamined, simple faith in Christ and His Church is just as saved as one with a more reasoned belief. However, you and I are not children and we weren't raised in the Orthodox Church. We're thinking, reasoning, adults and the Church rightly expects us to interact with Her in that capacity. Any Evangelical pastor worth his salt should expect exactly the same thing of us.
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2011, 05:04:46 PM »

For me personally, "why I'm not Orthodox" is many reasons, but perhaps largely - it is the perception that Eastern Orthodoxy leaves it as a primarily intellectual exercise for people (of no faith, non-Christian, or "other Christian" faith) to convert to it.  The way it seems to go is, I would meet with a priest, schedule some classes at the local parish with other inquirers, be assigned hundreds of pages of theology books to read, and through study and indoctrination (that word not used in a negative sense, just recognizing that is a 'feeding' of doctrine into one's mind where it isn't already), become convinced of the historical and theological claims the Orthodox Church makes for itself.  The Orthodox Church makes bold truth claims, but does not go about evangelizing as if the truth really matters *that* much.  It's like the Church recognizes that only people (and a small number at that) of a certain advanced mental capacity can make proper converts, and this is at the convert's initiative.  Never mind that, for some one like me, one could just as well go to the Roman Catholics and become convinced of their claims through the same method of study and indoctrinating.

I think I can very well understand this struggle. Some of my very close and dear friends in Ukraine have left the Orthodox Church and became Eastern Rite Catholics. Their argument is similar: we do not really know, who is the "ONE TRUE" Church, the Orthodox Church or the Roman Catholic Church; both claim that they are and the other is a schism; the history of their split is extremely long and complicated, and most definitely has been tinkered with; so, the "onetruthfulness" of either one of them is nothing but a myth, a brainwashing means, while the plain truth is that none of the two is "ONE True." They are BOTH True. So, given that at the moment, in the specifically Ukrainian circumstances, the Orthodox Church is pro-Russian at large, and thus anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is patriotic Ukrainian, anti-Russian and pro-Western, let us join it. We do not lose anything by doing that because, again, from the point of view of mere faith they BOTH are right, so our decision is based on the politics.

I don't know how to argue with this, in all honesty. The history indeed is long, and complicated, and twisted, and most definitely each of the two sides presents those facts that fit its agenda and hide other facts that do not fit it. And that concerns not only the old history of the Great Scism, but also newer history. For example, I heard from one very learned Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic such a detailed point-by-point refutation of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov's article about the First Vatican Council that my hair on the head stood up. And yet, I choose to remain with the Orthodox Church simply for this reason: my roots are in Ukraine, moreover, in its eastern part, so, a gazillion generations of my ancestors were Orthodox. If I leave the church where they worshipped and move to some other community of faith simply because its politics is more to my personal taste, I will thus commit a certain spiritual treason.

let's just imagine - a militant atheist authority swept into national power and immediately forbade all public worship, going as far as desecrating and bulldozing all Christian churches of all denominations... then what of how, where, to find the truth?  An outrageous leap of thought yes, but it's to highlight my dilemma, that if the outer 'trappings' of Eastern Orthodoxy is what appeals to me, how to separate that from the necessity of a solid conviction of faith that could withstand the external expressions of worship removed?

Very good point. In a way, that's exactly what happened when the former Russian Empire collapsed in 1917. The Bolshevik regime really bulldozed or blew up churches, killed priests and bishops, very strongly discouraged people from attending religious gatherings. Orthodoxy in the USSR re-emerged only in the form of "Sergianism," which is, strictly speaking, a heresy. Now, after the collapse of the Soviet totalitarianism, people in post-Soviet countries aren't coming to the Orthodox Church by millions. I remember reading somewhere that during the Holy Nativity celebration on January 7 - 9 this year, about 40,000 Russians visited their Orthodox parishes and took part in the services; the figure might look impressive, but that's only about 0.4% of the population of the Russian Federation. These figures aren't much better in Ukraine, or in Georgia, or even in Moldova (which is considered about the most "religious" of all of the post-Soviet republics).

Again, I don't exactly know how to react to this. When I was a little boy, I attended practices of the boys' choir at the Kyiv Palace of Young Pioneers, and I remember being taught there that to be heard, a singer must not try to sing loudly. Rather, the singer ought to sing using a light, clear voice that comes not exactly from the tensed vocal cords, but from the "inside," from the diaphragm, the belly, the viscera, "splanchnes" (remember, Jesus in Matt. 9:36 had this "VISCERAL" feeling about the crowds He saw,  ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν - "eSPLANXNITHSI peri avton). The Truth will always prevail, will always be heard.
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« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2011, 05:33:18 PM »

 
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The Eucharist is a true, propitiatory sacrifice. Different Orthodox theories exist as to what, exactly, this means. Chrysostom's liturgy says of the Eucharistic sacrifice: "Your own, from your own, we offer you, in all and for all." Christ is thus "the Offerer and the Offered, the Acceptor and the Distributed," all in such a way that nothing is added to his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. Like baptism, the Eucharist is administered to infants.
While Protestant evangelicals have never agreed on the precise meaning or mode of the sacraments, they have historically emphasized two related truths that diverge from the Orthodox understanding of the sacraments. Evangelicals urge the necessity of personal conversion through the faith and repentance of the individual believer, as opposed to the Orthodox idea of regeneration by the sacraments.
Also, while evangelicals wholeheartedly embrace the full-orbed New Testament descriptions of the work of Christ (reconciliation, ransom, redemption, forgiveness, adoption, etc.), since the Reformation, justification by faith and substitutionary atonement have enjoyed pride of place in our understanding of the doctrines of sin and salvation. Luther urged that Christianity would stand or fall with this doctrine; Calvin called it "the hinge upon which all true religion turns."
In the history and theology of Orthodoxy it is startling to observe the nearly complete absence of any mention of the doctrine of justification by faith. Rather, "theosis" (literally, "deification"), or the progressive transformation of people into full likeness to God, in soul and body, takes center stage. (2 Pet. 1:4). Further, the Orthodox reject the idea of inherited guilt; we are guilty only for our own sins rather than for the inborn consequences of Adam's fall. Conversely, evangelicals argue that this forensic framework for sin and salvation is not merely a historical and unduly negative carryover from Augustine and Anselm, but rather is the clear teaching of Paul in his Letters to the Romans and Galatians.

From the actual article - this is an example of my dilemma.  These are perhaps 'distinctives' of the Evangelical tradition (the emphasis on redemption/atonement, and justification by faith) that I believe were adapted from the prior Roman Catholic emphases.  I agree with Mr. Clendenin that these are "full-orbed" teachings (I would add - together with faith producing works and works evidencing faith, and partaking of the Lord's sacrifice in the Holy Communion, however these are separate from his list), and that the Orthodox Church almost completely ignores them.  (Or, the Orthodox Church seems to have chosen to only emphasize the all-encompassing love and mercy of God, in spite of whatever faith one professes so that profession of faith ultimately seems to mean nothing when I read St. Paul constantly bringing up these matters throughout his epistles.)  It is a case of the Orthodox Church not really teaching what is prominent in a large chunk of the New Testament (or so it appears to me, a simpleton.)

To resolve my dilemma - I could decide, as the Orthodox Church teaches, that it has the power and authority to rightly divide the Scriptures and thus what it teaches from them, in whatever emphasis - or I could go to the Roman Catholics, who at least historically (there's a clincher...) teach more of the substitution and justification elements of salvation than Orthodoxy does.  (And thus, my concern that Orthodox emphases jive with the Holy Scripture emphases would simply go away.)  Ditto on "original sin", which I believe is in its most basic strain a Scripture-accorded teaching, but the teaching muddled up by the Orthodox so they can teach something different... I don't know.
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2011, 05:41:07 PM »

For me personally, "why I'm not Orthodox" is many reasons, but perhaps largely - it is the perception that Eastern Orthodoxy leaves it as a primarily intellectual exercise for people (of no faith, non-Christian, or "other Christian" faith) to convert to it.  The way it seems to go is, I would meet with a priest, schedule some classes at the local parish with other inquirers, be assigned hundreds of pages of theology books to read, and through study and indoctrination (that word not used in a negative sense, just recognizing that is a 'feeding' of doctrine into one's mind where it isn't already), become convinced of the historical and theological claims the Orthodox Church makes for itself.  The Orthodox Church makes bold truth claims, but does not go about evangelizing as if the truth really matters *that* much.  It's like the Church recognizes that only people (and a small number at that) of a certain advanced mental capacity can make proper converts, and this is at the convert's initiative.  Never mind that, for some one like me, one could just as well go to the Roman Catholics and become convinced of their claims through the same method of study and indoctrinating.

I think I can very well understand this struggle. Some of my very close and dear friends in Ukraine have left the Orthodox Church and became Eastern Rite Catholics. Their argument is similar: we do not really know, who is the "ONE TRUE" Church, the Orthodox Church or the Roman Catholic Church; both claim that they are and the other is a schism; the history of their split is extremely long and complicated, and most definitely has been tinkered with; so, the "onetruthfulness" of either one of them is nothing but a myth, a brainwashing means, while the plain truth is that none of the two is "ONE True." They are BOTH True. So, given that at the moment, in the specifically Ukrainian circumstances, the Orthodox Church is pro-Russian at large, and thus anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is patriotic Ukrainian, anti-Russian and pro-Western, let us join it. We do not lose anything by doing that because, again, from the point of view of mere faith they BOTH are right, so our decision is based on the politics.

I don't know how to argue with this, in all honesty. The history indeed is long, and complicated, and twisted, and most definitely each of the two sides presents those facts that fit its agenda and hide other facts that do not fit it. And that concerns not only the old history of the Great Scism, but also newer history. For example, I heard from one very learned Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic such a detailed point-by-point refutation of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov's article about the First Vatican Council that my hair on the head stood up. And yet, I choose to remain with the Orthodox Church simply for this reason: my roots are in Ukraine, moreover, in its eastern part, so, a gazillion generations of my ancestors were Orthodox. If I leave the church where they worshipped and move to some other community of faith simply because its politics is more to my personal taste, I will thus commit a certain spiritual treason.

let's just imagine - a militant atheist authority swept into national power and immediately forbade all public worship, going as far as desecrating and bulldozing all Christian churches of all denominations... then what of how, where, to find the truth?  An outrageous leap of thought yes, but it's to highlight my dilemma, that if the outer 'trappings' of Eastern Orthodoxy is what appeals to me, how to separate that from the necessity of a solid conviction of faith that could withstand the external expressions of worship removed?

Very good point. In a way, that's exactly what happened when the former Russian Empire collapsed in 1917. The Bolshevik regime really bulldozed or blew up churches, killed priests and bishops, very strongly discouraged people from attending religious gatherings. Orthodoxy in the USSR re-emerged only in the form of "Sergianism," which is, strictly speaking, a heresy. Now, after the collapse of the Soviet totalitarianism, people in post-Soviet countries aren't coming to the Orthodox Church by millions. I remember reading somewhere that during the Holy Nativity celebration on January 7 - 9 this year, about 40,000 Russians visited their Orthodox parishes and took part in the services; the figure might look impressive, but that's only about 0.4% of the population of the Russian Federation. These figures aren't much better in Ukraine, or in Georgia, or even in Moldova (which is considered about the most "religious" of all of the post-Soviet republics).

Again, I don't exactly know how to react to this. When I was a little boy, I attended practices of the boys' choir at the Kyiv Palace of Young Pioneers, and I remember being taught there that to be heard, a singer must not try to sing loudly. Rather, the singer ought to sing using a light, clear voice that comes not exactly from the tensed vocal cords, but from the "inside," from the diaphragm, the belly, the viscera, "splanchnes" (remember, Jesus in Matt. 9:36 had this "VISCERAL" feeling about the crowds He saw,  ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν - "eSPLANXNITHSI peri avton). The Truth will always prevail, will always be heard.

Thank you for this post.  Often times, the aesthetic appeal of Orthodoxy to me personally, makes me want to subscribe to the very romanticized picture of Orthodox life in "Holy Mother Russia" that I see often propogated.  ("Holy Mother Serbia" could have the same, or Greece, etc.)  And so I might regard Russia (both before, and after the era of the Soviet Union) as a protector of true Christian moral virtue and allegiance to Jesus Christ in principle.  It is obvious enough from this, and another of your posts on "The West and Russia" thread elsewhere, that this picture is not really accurate - and to my puritanical or pietistic sensiblities, not at all accurate, or helpful.  It always convinces me of when Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" - which, in my intellectual disarray, makes me often very sympathetic to the Mennonite and Amish Anabaptists, 17th-18th century Quakers (to distinguish these from the divergent liberal vs. Evangelical Quakers of later years), and the Church of the Brethren, who are traditionally anti-violence, anti-war, and non-conformist in cultural matters.
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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2011, 07:27:53 PM »

Since we're talking about things that bother us, something that has been nagging at the back of my brain is the fact that virtually no poor -- and I mean the real poor -- people are converting to Orthodoxy, at least in the United States. In poorer parts of the world I am sure this is not the case.
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« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2011, 07:46:23 PM »

Since we're talking about things that bother us, something that has been nagging at the back of my brain is the fact that virtually no poor -- and I mean the real poor -- people are converting to Orthodoxy, at least in the United States. In poorer parts of the world I am sure this is not the case.
I question if the US has "real poor." 

In the poorer parts of the world, where they have the real poor, what is not the case?
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« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2011, 07:52:08 PM »

In the poorer parts of the world, where they have the real poor, what is not the case?
Perhaps I will restate in the positive: In more poverty-stricken parts of the world, the poverty-stricken are converting to Orthodoxy. I suppose.
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« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2011, 07:55:10 PM »

Thank you for this post.  Often times, the aesthetic appeal of Orthodoxy to me personally, makes me want to subscribe to the very romanticized picture of Orthodox life in "Holy Mother Russia" that I see often propogated.  ("Holy Mother Serbia" could have the same, or Greece, etc.)  And so I might regard Russia (both before, and after the era of the Soviet Union) as a protector of true Christian moral virtue and allegiance to Jesus Christ in principle.  It is obvious enough from this, and another of your posts on "The West and Russia" thread elsewhere, that this picture is not really accurate - and to my puritanical or pietistic sensiblities, not at all accurate, or helpful.  It always convinces me of when Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" - which, in my intellectual disarray, makes me often very sympathetic to the Mennonite and Amish Anabaptists, 17th-18th century Quakers (to distinguish these from the divergent liberal vs. Evangelical Quakers of later years), and the Church of the Brethren, who are traditionally anti-violence, anti-war, and non-conformist in cultural matters.

Brother, but of course His (and your, and mine) Kingdom is not of this world. The so-called "Symphony" between the Church and the State (=the Empire), as elaborated by the emperor Justinian, never worked and does not work now and will never work in the future. It's just a dream...
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« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2011, 07:55:17 PM »

In the poorer parts of the world, where they have the real poor, what is not the case?
Perhaps I will restate in the positive: In more poverty-stricken parts of the world, the poverty-stricken are converting to Orthodoxy. I suppose.
On a side note, I believe that Christianity has only just begun.
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« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2011, 08:40:30 PM »

What does dueling abortion stats really prove, guys? It's not either church's fault if her people don't listen to her.

So what if there are more Anabaptists per capita who obey their church on abortion. Whoopdee do. There's a lot of Buddhist pacifists too.
Abortion is murder is it not? Suppose the moral teachings of Church A are far more effective at preventing it than Church B. Now assuming you agree with that, what would you say when people from Church B continually present arguments saying that Church A is in terrible shape?
People are fickle and inscrutable. Someone might go to church and help the poor all their lives then turn around and kill someone. I don't think the effectiveness of a church's teachings is really quantifiable empirically (after all, if only one person was ever saved, Christ surely would still have come and died).

That being said, I don't agree with isa's apparent view of the RCC as a hellhole or yim's similar views of the EO. Just questioning how effective this exercise is for all concerned.
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« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2011, 09:25:00 PM »

Quote from: Volnutt
That being said, I don't agree with isa's apparent view of the RCC as a hellhole or yim's similar views of the EO. Just questioning how effective this exercise is for all concerned.

(applause)  Wink
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2011, 09:40:41 PM »

Since we're talking about things that bother us, something that has been nagging at the back of my brain is the fact that virtually no poor -- and I mean the real poor -- people are converting to Orthodoxy, at least in the United States. In poorer parts of the world I am sure this is not the case.

I suggest you visit a mission Church like mine then. You will change your mind. Our last Parish Warden served 10 years in the slam. He converted to orthodoxy in Prison

We  had a visit from a group in New York who run a Mission Church in a very poor neighborhood. I forget the name ( ....house) but I will post it as soon as I recall. They were originally a homeless shelter and food pantry. The city eventually opened several shelters in the same neighborhood so they switch to being a regular Parish..... They hear gun shots all night.
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2011, 10:05:21 PM »

I want to respond to the original message, but now I fear that it will be out of place.  angel

(Gamliel, me too! Mr. Clendenin, hopefully he will eventually join Orthodoxy someday, although the last line of his article pretty much sumed it up. He certainly commands a fairly strong respect of the Church, just based on the tone in his books. I need to re-read again.)
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« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2011, 10:10:33 AM »

Since we're talking about things that bother us, something that has been nagging at the back of my brain is the fact that virtually no poor -- and I mean the real poor -- people are converting to Orthodoxy, at least in the United States. In poorer parts of the world I am sure this is not the case.

I suggest you visit a mission Church like mine then. You will change your mind. Our last Parish Warden served 10 years in the slam. He converted to orthodoxy in Prison

We  had a visit from a group in New York who run a Mission Church in a very poor neighborhood. I forget the name ( ....house) but I will post it as soon as I recall. They were originally a homeless shelter and food pantry. The city eventually opened several shelters in the same neighborhood so they switch to being a regular Parish..... They hear gun shots all night.

Yeah. My whole parish is poor.
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« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2011, 10:26:24 AM »

I want to respond to the original message, but now I fear that it will be out of place.  angel

(Gamliel, me too! Mr. Clendenin, hopefully he will eventually join Orthodoxy someday, although the last line of his article pretty much sumed it up. He certainly commands a fairly strong respect of the Church, just based on the tone in his books. I need to re-read again.)

Please do. Let's hope that the discussion will focus on the Mr Clendenin's objections to becoming Orthodox. In the penultimate paragraph of the article, this is what he says (I am separating the points of contention so that we can start addressing them:

"Theologically, just what is at stake in the differences between Protestant and Orthodox theology? In fact, much of what is basic to Christianity:

1. the nature, sources, and interpretation of God's revelation to us,
2. the meaning of the church and its sacraments,
3. the doctrines of sin and salvation, and
4. even how one enters the kingdom of God.

On these points evangelical and Orthodox thinking diverge in significant ways."

Speaking as the Section Moderator, I caution posters to please get back on topic. Please no more comparisons between Orthodox and anybody else, or discussion of yeshuaisiam's POV, except as they relate to Mr. Clendenin's article. Thanks, Second Chance[/b]
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« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2011, 12:57:51 PM »

I want to respond to the original message, but now I fear that it will be out of place.  angel

(Gamliel, me too! Mr. Clendenin, hopefully he will eventually join Orthodoxy someday, although the last line of his article pretty much sumed it up. He certainly commands a fairly strong respect of the Church, just based on the tone in his books. I need to re-read again.)

Please do. Let's hope that the discussion will focus on the Mr Clendenin's objections to becoming Orthodox. In the penultimate paragraph of the article, this is what he says (I am separating the points of contention so that we can start addressing them:

"Theologically, just what is at stake in the differences between Protestant and Orthodox theology? In fact, much of what is basic to Christianity:

1. the nature, sources, and interpretation of God's revelation to us,
2. the meaning of the church and its sacraments,
3. the doctrines of sin and salvation, and
4. even how one enters the kingdom of God.

On these points evangelical and Orthodox thinking diverge in significant ways."

Speaking as the Section Moderator, I caution posters to please get back on topic. Please no more comparisons between Orthodox and anybody else, or discussion of yeshuaisiam's POV, except as they relate to Mr. Clendenin's article. Thanks, Second Chance[/b]
The author raised some objections to the perceived exclusiveness of the Orthodox Church. For example, with reference to #2, the sacraments of the Church, many Orthodox do not recognise the sacrament of Baptism as performed outside of the ORthodox Church, especially when it is performed without the triple immersion. This objection is particular to the Orthodox Church as the other Christian Churches generally will recognise each other's Baptism, as long as the Baptism is performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2011, 12:59:57 PM »

I want to respond to the original message, but now I fear that it will be out of place.  angel

(Gamliel, me too! Mr. Clendenin, hopefully he will eventually join Orthodoxy someday, although the last line of his article pretty much sumed it up. He certainly commands a fairly strong respect of the Church, just based on the tone in his books. I need to re-read again.)

Please do. Let's hope that the discussion will focus on the Mr Clendenin's objections to becoming Orthodox. In the penultimate paragraph of the article, this is what he says (I am separating the points of contention so that we can start addressing them:

"Theologically, just what is at stake in the differences between Protestant and Orthodox theology? In fact, much of what is basic to Christianity:

1. the nature, sources, and interpretation of God's revelation to us,
2. the meaning of the church and its sacraments,
3. the doctrines of sin and salvation, and
4. even how one enters the kingdom of God.

On these points evangelical and Orthodox thinking diverge in significant ways."

Speaking as the Section Moderator, I caution posters to please get back on topic. Please no more comparisons between Orthodox and anybody else, or discussion of yeshuaisiam's POV, except as they relate to Mr. Clendenin's article. Thanks, Second Chance[/b]
The author raised some objections to the perceived exclusiveness of the Orthodox Church. For example, with reference to #2, the sacraments of the Church, many Orthodox do not recognise the sacrament of Baptism as performed outside of the ORthodox Church, especially when it is performed without the triple immersion. This objection is particular to the Orthodox Church as the other Christian Churches generally will recognise each other's Baptism, as long as the Baptism is performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I thought that his biggest problem was with infant baptism.
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« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2011, 01:12:37 PM »

I want to respond to the original message, but now I fear that it will be out of place.  angel

(Gamliel, me too! Mr. Clendenin, hopefully he will eventually join Orthodoxy someday, although the last line of his article pretty much sumed it up. He certainly commands a fairly strong respect of the Church, just based on the tone in his books. I need to re-read again.)

Please do. Let's hope that the discussion will focus on the Mr Clendenin's objections to becoming Orthodox. In the penultimate paragraph of the article, this is what he says (I am separating the points of contention so that we can start addressing them:

"Theologically, just what is at stake in the differences between Protestant and Orthodox theology? In fact, much of what is basic to Christianity:

1. the nature, sources, and interpretation of God's revelation to us,
2. the meaning of the church and its sacraments,
3. the doctrines of sin and salvation, and
4. even how one enters the kingdom of God.

On these points evangelical and Orthodox thinking diverge in significant ways."

Speaking as the Section Moderator, I caution posters to please get back on topic. Please no more comparisons between Orthodox and anybody else, or discussion of yeshuaisiam's POV, except as they relate to Mr. Clendenin's article. Thanks, Second Chance[/b]
The author raised some objections to the perceived exclusiveness of the Orthodox Church. For example, with reference to #2, the sacraments of the Church, many Orthodox do not recognise the sacrament of Baptism as performed outside of the ORthodox Church, especially when it is performed without the triple immersion. This objection is particular to the Orthodox Church as the other Christian Churches generally will recognise each other's Baptism, as long as the Baptism is performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I thought that his biggest problem was with infant baptism.
“To be Eastern Orthodox is, above all, to stake a bold and unapologetic theological claim as the one true church of Christ on earth, which alone has guarded right belief and true worship in absolute identity and unbroken succession with the apostolic church. It is precisely this exclusivistic assertion that some Protestant converts, in search of the "true, New Testament Church" have found so beguiling.”
“But whether a non-Orthodox person can even be saved is an open question in Orthodox ecclesiology. Over coffee one day I asked an Orthodox priest whether I, as a Protestant theologian, might be considered a true Christian. His response: "I don't know."”
If an evangelical is not a Christian, even after having been baptized, then what does that say about the recognition of the Sacrament of Baptism outside of the Eastern Orthodox Church?
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« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2011, 02:08:18 PM »

I want to respond to the original message, but now I fear that it will be out of place.  angel

(Gamliel, me too! Mr. Clendenin, hopefully he will eventually join Orthodoxy someday, although the last line of his article pretty much sumed it up. He certainly commands a fairly strong respect of the Church, just based on the tone in his books. I need to re-read again.)

Please do. Let's hope that the discussion will focus on the Mr Clendenin's objections to becoming Orthodox. In the penultimate paragraph of the article, this is what he says (I am separating the points of contention so that we can start addressing them:

"Theologically, just what is at stake in the differences between Protestant and Orthodox theology? In fact, much of what is basic to Christianity:

1. the nature, sources, and interpretation of God's revelation to us,
2. the meaning of the church and its sacraments,
3. the doctrines of sin and salvation, and
4. even how one enters the kingdom of God.

On these points evangelical and Orthodox thinking diverge in significant ways."

Speaking as the Section Moderator, I caution posters to please get back on topic. Please no more comparisons between Orthodox and anybody else, or discussion of yeshuaisiam's POV, except as they relate to Mr. Clendenin's article. Thanks, Second Chance[/b]
The author raised some objections to the perceived exclusiveness of the Orthodox Church. For example, with reference to #2, the sacraments of the Church, many Orthodox do not recognise the sacrament of Baptism as performed outside of the ORthodox Church, especially when it is performed without the triple immersion. This objection is particular to the Orthodox Church as the other Christian Churches generally will recognise each other's Baptism, as long as the Baptism is performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I thought that his biggest problem was with infant baptism.
“To be Eastern Orthodox is, above all, to stake a bold and unapologetic theological claim as the one true church of Christ on earth, which alone has guarded right belief and true worship in absolute identity and unbroken succession with the apostolic church. It is precisely this exclusivistic assertion that some Protestant converts, in search of the "true, New Testament Church" have found so beguiling.”
“But whether a non-Orthodox person can even be saved is an open question in Orthodox ecclesiology. Over coffee one day I asked an Orthodox priest whether I, as a Protestant theologian, might be considered a true Christian. His response: "I don't know."”
If an evangelical is not a Christian, even after having been baptized, then what does that say about the recognition of the Sacrament of Baptism outside of the Eastern Orthodox Church?


To be fair to the author, and the understand the context of his objections, let's quote the central section of his article:

"The sacraments. Despite its historical estrangement from Rome, from a Protestant theological perspective Orthodoxy is similar to Catholicism at several points. Most notable are its beliefs about baptism and the Eucharist. The theological objections evangelicals have traditionally had with Rome on these two points rightly apply to Orthodoxy.

Orthodox spiritual life gives central prominence to the sacraments. These sacraments are not mere signs, symbols, or reminders. They are the efficacious means by which God transmits his salvific and sanctifying grace to us. Orthodoxy generally affirms the same seven sacraments as Catholicism: baptism, chrismation or confirmation, the Eucharist, repentance or confession, holy orders or ordination, marriage, and holy unction or anointing of the sick. Preeminent among the sacraments are baptism and the Eucharist.

Baptism is the primary and fundamental basis of the entire Orthodox Christian life. In the words of contemporary Orthodox theologian Thomas Hopko, "everything in the church flows out of the waters of baptism: the remission of sins and life eternal." Administered to infants who are fully immersed three times, baptism effects the "bath of regeneration" by which a person is born again, wholly cleansed from both original and actual sins, and, consequently, saved from guilt and punishment. In chrismation, performed immediately after rising from the baptismal waters, the priest anoints the infant with a special ointment, making the sign of the cross on various parts of the body, thus acknowledging the gift and seal of the Holy Spirit.

Orthodoxy affirms the real, physical presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist (as do Catholics, Lutherans, and many Anglicans), yet unlike Catholicism it is content not to explain how this happens. It makes no appeal to a doctrine of transubstantiation and instead simply affirms the mystery. The Eucharist, according to the Divine Liturgy of Saint Chrysostom (the normal liturgy for Sundays and weekdays), is "for the purification of the soul, for the remission of sins, for the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, [and] for the Kingdom of Heaven."

The Eucharist is a true, propitiatory sacrifice. Different Orthodox theories exist as to what, exactly, this means. Chrysostom's liturgy says of the Eucharistic sacrifice: "Your own, from your own, we offer you, in all and for all." Christ is thus "the Offerer and the Offered, the Acceptor and the Distributed," all in such a way that nothing is added to his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. Like baptism, the Eucharist is administered to infants.

While Protestant evangelicals have never agreed on the precise meaning or mode of the sacraments, they have historically emphasized two related truths that diverge from the Orthodox understanding of the sacraments. Evangelicals urge the necessity of personal conversion through the faith and repentance of the individual believer, as opposed to the Orthodox idea of regeneration by the sacraments.

Also, while evangelicals wholeheartedly embrace the full-orbed New Testament descriptions of the work of Christ (reconciliation, ransom, redemption, forgiveness, adoption, etc.), since the Reformation, justification by faith and substitutionary atonement have enjoyed pride of place in our understanding of the doctrines of sin and salvation. Luther urged that Christianity would stand or fall with this doctrine; Calvin called it "the hinge upon which all true religion turns."

In the history and theology of Orthodoxy it is startling to observe the nearly complete absence of any mention of the doctrine of justification by faith. Rather, "theosis" (literally, "deification"), or the progressive transformation of people into full likeness to God, in soul and body, takes center stage. (2 Pet. 1:4). Further, the Orthodox reject the idea of inherited guilt; we are guilty only for our own sins rather than for the inborn consequences of Adam's fall. Conversely, evangelicals argue that this forensic framework for sin and salvation is not merely a historical and unduly negative carryover from Augustine and Anselm, but rather is the clear teaching of Paul in his Letters to the Romans and Galatians
."

I have highlighted in bold those areas that the author identifies as the greatest divergences between Orthodoxy (and Roman Catholicism) and Protestantism. At least to me, the apex of such divergence is infant baptism.
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« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2011, 04:32:21 PM »

Now I remember reading this when it first came out.

In view of his reason "why not"
Quote
Because I am committed to key distinctives of the Protestant evangelical tradition
it is a little troubling his realizing as
Quote
The late Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff once remarked that the ultimate conflict between the Orthodox East and the Latin West, both Catholic and Protestant, resided in two different ideas about tradition. From the Orthodox perspective, both Catholics and Protestants seek to ground theological authority in an external norm. In Catholicism this external dogmatic authority resides in the teaching magisterium of the church as expressed in the primacy and infallibility of the papacy. In Protestantism there arose the doctrine of sola scriptura.

In contrast, Orthodoxy offers a view of theological authority that is internal and pneumatic rather than external and dogmatic. The Spirit of God himself, realizing the sacramental presence of Christ in the church, speaks to us in tradition. Thus Georges Florovsky once referred to tradition as "the witness of the Spirit."
and his admission
Quote
it is one thing to guard the doctrine of sola scriptura, but quite another to ignore or disdain two thousand years of tradition; surely there is a dangerous arrogance in imagining that we do not need to listen to the wealth of biblical wisdom from the patristic writers.


He does state the Orthodox position well, for instance:
Quote
Orthodoxy has always affirmed that Peter was the "first among equals" (primus inter pares) ; but unlike Roman Catholics, the Orthodox have always denied that he held any "primacy of power" (primatus potestatis). Rather, for Orthodoxy the whole people of God is the protector of apostolic tradition. In an encyclical letter of 1848, the Eastern patriarchs stated this most emphatically: "Infallibility resides solely in the ecumenicity of the church bound together by mutual love. … The unchangeableness of dogma as well as the purity of rite [are] entrusted to the care not of one hierarchy but of all the people of the church." This hardly signifies any sort of congregational or ecclesiological democracy, however, for while all believers possess the truth, it is the special duty of church authorities to teach it.


Second, in biblical interpretation the Reformers placed the Scriptures above the church. They insisted that the Bible interprets itself, and through the Holy Spirit, God instructs its readers in a direct and individual manner rather than binding their consciences to the supposedly reliable teaching of the church. It is precisely this view that elevates Scripture above the church and actually encourages private interpretation that the Orthodox theologian Georges Florovsky once called "the sin of the Reformation."

Instead, Orthodoxy believes that the church stands above the Scriptures, which is why, as noted, Orthodox believers agree to "accept and understand Holy Scripture in accordance with the interpretation that was and is held by the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of the East, our Mother." In this Orthodox view, Scripture stands within rather than above the church, and to distinguish its authority from that of the church is a mistake of method.
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« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2011, 06:22:46 PM »

I think the author may have had a different understanding of Orthodoxy, had he been acquainted with my parish or many OCA and Antiochian parishes in the South and west of the Mississippi. He holds that the " Evangelicals urge the necessity of personal conversion through the faith and repentance of the individual believer, as opposed to the Orthodox idea of regeneration by the sacraments." In my parish, for example, we have as many adults as babies who become members of the Body. And, I would think that our Inquirer-Catechumen-Member approach is much more indicative of adherence to the one of the two principal tenets of Protestantism than conversion by a momentary response to an altar call in a church, stadium or at home of one's home. They really are quite sloppy in how they have implemented the very serious business of "personal conversion through the faith and repentance of the individual believer."

He also does not seem to realize that baptism (as well as marriage) for us encompasses not only the individual being baptized but also the entire local congregation, led by the sponsor. There is entirely too much "me, me, me" in Protestantism and not enough of "us, the Body, the Church." I forget who said it but I think Protestants have indeed thrown out the baby with the bathwater.
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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2011, 11:53:34 AM »

Quote
Further, the Orthodox reject the idea of inherited guilt; we are guilty only for our own sins rather than for the inborn consequences of Adam's fall.

This is not my impression of our belief. Rather I think the fact that we are more careful and precise in our distinction between person and nature, and that we place less emphasis on the metaphor of judicial guilt, than Protestants, confuses them into thinking this about us.
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« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2011, 11:26:01 AM »

Folks, I am locking this topic until I figure out what is to be done with this mess. It amazes me that it has gone off in so many directions and that so many posters so easily ignore the rule against doing so. I have a major project that is due next Wednesday so please do not expect an early resolution. In the meantime, y'all can take your off-topic arguments  elsewhere if you wish. Thanks, Second Chance
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« Reply #39 on: August 26, 2011, 10:49:44 AM »

I split off all posts regarding Yeshuaisiam to a new topic "Yeshuaisiam's Objections to Orthodox Christianity" at http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,39168.msg625608.html#msg625608

Similarly, I merged posts on abortion with an old thread, "Orthodoxy and Abortion" at http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3282.0.html

I am unlocking this thread with a strong general warning that veering off topic will not be tolerated. Thanks, Second Chance
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« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2011, 03:59:03 PM »

Quote
The Eucharist is a true, propitiatory sacrifice. Different Orthodox theories exist as to what, exactly, this means. Chrysostom's liturgy says of the Eucharistic sacrifice: "Your own, from your own, we offer you, in all and for all." Christ is thus "the Offerer and the Offered, the Acceptor and the Distributed," all in such a way that nothing is added to his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. Like baptism, the Eucharist is administered to infants.
While Protestant evangelicals have never agreed on the precise meaning or mode of the sacraments, they have historically emphasized two related truths that diverge from the Orthodox understanding of the sacraments. Evangelicals urge the necessity of personal conversion through the faith and repentance of the individual believer, as opposed to the Orthodox idea of regeneration by the sacraments.
Also, while evangelicals wholeheartedly embrace the full-orbed New Testament descriptions of the work of Christ (reconciliation, ransom, redemption, forgiveness, adoption, etc.), since the Reformation, justification by faith and substitutionary atonement have enjoyed pride of place in our understanding of the doctrines of sin and salvation. Luther urged that Christianity would stand or fall with this doctrine; Calvin called it "the hinge upon which all true religion turns."
In the history and theology of Orthodoxy it is startling to observe the nearly complete absence of any mention of the doctrine of justification by faith. Rather, "theosis" (literally, "deification"), or the progressive transformation of people into full likeness to God, in soul and body, takes center stage. (2 Pet. 1:4). Further, the Orthodox reject the idea of inherited guilt; we are guilty only for our own sins rather than for the inborn consequences of Adam's fall. Conversely, evangelicals argue that this forensic framework for sin and salvation is not merely a historical and unduly negative carryover from Augustine and Anselm, but rather is the clear teaching of Paul in his Letters to the Romans and Galatians.

From the actual article - this is an example of my dilemma.  These are perhaps 'distinctives' of the Evangelical tradition (the emphasis on redemption/atonement, and justification by faith) that I believe were adapted from the prior Roman Catholic emphases.  I agree with Mr. Clendenin that these are "full-orbed" teachings (I would add - together with faith producing works and works evidencing faith, and partaking of the Lord's sacrifice in the Holy Communion, however these are separate from his list), and that the Orthodox Church almost completely ignores them.  (Or, the Orthodox Church seems to have chosen to only emphasize the all-encompassing love and mercy of God, in spite of whatever faith one professes so that profession of faith ultimately seems to mean nothing when I read St. Paul constantly bringing up these matters throughout his epistles.)  It is a case of the Orthodox Church not really teaching what is prominent in a large chunk of the New Testament (or so it appears to me, a simpleton.)

To resolve my dilemma - I could decide, as the Orthodox Church teaches, that it has the power and authority to rightly divide the Scriptures and thus what it teaches from them, in whatever emphasis - or I could go to the Roman Catholics, who at least historically (there's a clincher...) teach more of the substitution and justification elements of salvation than Orthodoxy does.  (And thus, my concern that Orthodox emphases jive with the Holy Scripture emphases would simply go away.)  Ditto on "original sin", which I believe is in its most basic strain a Scripture-accorded teaching, but the teaching muddled up by the Orthodox so they can teach something different... I don't know.

Bringing this post of mine down to perhaps re-enliven this thread...  What is some accessible Orthodox treatment of some of these concerns - most specifically the second and last sentences in each paragraph, which are similar?  I have read on threads before some converts from Evangelicalism say that (paraphrase) "the hardest thing to give up was security/confidence in being saved, even for the present while striving."  That issue is a 3rd one from my more 'straightforward' reading of Paul  (1. justifcation by faith, 2. inherited guilt, 3. a confidence (not assurance) in being saved.  ("...being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" - Phillippians 1:6 kjv)
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« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2011, 05:37:42 PM »

Hi,

As someone who's struggled with this a lot, I'd like to share with you a mini-essay I wrote here on assurance a while ago. I hope this helps.

Quote
Something occurred to me today. Assurance as Protestants demand it, absolute certainty or "120% Proof Grace" as a contributor to iMonk once called it, is logically impossible.

The reason is the same as one of the reasons why today's followers of Rene Descartes' proofs of the existence of God often get in trouble. Essentially, one of Descartes' arguments was that we have in us a concept of God and that this concept is objectively perfect. Since an objectively perfect idea could not have come from the mind of an imperfect being, then God Himself must be the source of our concept of Him. Although one might find this intuitively persuasive, it just does not work as a proof. We know from modern psychology that human beings simply do not have infallible access to our their own thoughts. Descartes might think he has a perfect conception of God, but he has no way of proving this. He mightthink he knows what perfection means, but how can he be sure?

In the same way, when we say "I believe Jesus is the Son of the God," etc. we don't know we are mentally assenting to this proposition. There is always the possibility of subconscious motivations, internal contradictions, etc. that we might hold-any number of which could offset our actual assent to the truth of the Gospel and actual trust in Christ.

A Protestant might respond, "I know I have saving faith because I have the works which are its fruit." This just pushes the problem back though. How does one know these are true works, done with a pure heart and out of a sincere hunger for God's glory? How do you know you aren't just "washing the outside of the cup," doing them to appear righteous or out of some other hidden and selfish motive? Again, we have no infallible access.

A Protestant might also respond that the inner witness of the Spirit assures them that they have true faith. But Mormons say they know their religion is true because they got a "Burning in the Bosom" when they prayed about the Book of Mormon. How do you know this sure feeling of yours is not as false as theirs is (self-generated, physiological, demonic, or from some other source other than God)?

Finally, a Protestant could respond to any or all of the points above by saying that baring the unforeseen, the think they truly believe in Christ and they have confidence that He is greater than the vagaries of the human mind and can save despite them. This is quite correct. It can serve as a fine nonfoundationalist sort of assurance, but it isn't what the Reformers taught.

Protestantism is a child of Aristotelean logic and a contemporary of Renaissance Humanism. If something is not 100% correct and proven almost syllogistically, it is of no theological value to the Scholastically trained Luther and Calvin, let alone their Radical Reformation cousins. One might be able to hold a sort of "epistemologically fuzzy" soteriology as outlined above, but the Reformers simply would not have recognized it. In fact, they might even accuse you of "Papist" sentiments!

So, 100% assurance of salvation is untenable, not because God is unfaithful or incapable of saving but because we in our feeble minds are not capable of knowing our beliefs and intentions well enough to be absolutely confident that we believe unto salvation.

Whatever hope Protestants have, if they are consistent they must hold to it with less than complete certainty. Nothing wrong with that, except for one thing-Protestants now have no advantage in this department over the Orthodox. If they are not absolutely sure that they will endure to the end but must trust in God's good mercies, so must the Protestants if they think they're already saved. Too bad Martin Luther wasn't born 600 years later to recognize this.

I'm in the middle of a big project this weekend, so forgive me if I'm slow to respond. I hope this helps you. God bless!
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« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2011, 06:42:29 PM »

I just sent this out to a friend via PM, but any disgruntled Protestants may want to check out this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Thirsting-God-Land-Shallow-Wells/dp/1888212284/ref=pd_cp_b_pw_1
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« Reply #43 on: August 29, 2011, 09:05:58 AM »

I certainly understand the author's feeling of schizophrenia. Even now, I'm in a Baptist university reading St. Augustine during his feast and then arguing against his teaching on original sin (while my Calvinist classmates attempt to defend it)...and the entire time I've been visiting an Orthodox parish.

I would say that there's little reason to fret over the article itself. He explains that his ultimate reason for rejecting Orthodoxy is because he's committed to being a Protestant, or as he puts it, "Protestant distinctives." Of course, the flaw is how do we know what defines "Protestant" since there isn't a ruling board that would help in such matters, but that's for another discussion.

As for me, I do see the differences, but the more I learn about those differences, the more Orthodox I become and the more I'm drawn to it. It simply makes sense. Even now throughout my conversion process, Francis Schaeffer remains one of my heroes of the faith. In his conversion story, he noticed that after reading the Greek philosophers he was left with questions, questions that Scripture had answers for. For me, after living as a Protestant I've been left with many questions, questions that Orthodoxy has answers for.

Perhaps the author has not considered leaving the Protestant faith because he's ignoring his own beliefs in approaching the issue and letting them interfere.
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« Reply #44 on: August 29, 2011, 03:41:32 PM »

I just sent this out to a friend via PM, but any disgruntled Protestants may want to check out this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Thirsting-God-Land-Shallow-Wells/dp/1888212284/ref=pd_cp_b_pw_1
Emphasis on disgruntled.
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