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Author Topic: List of infallible teachings of the Orthodox Church?  (Read 4699 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rho
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« on: July 29, 2004, 05:42:18 AM »

Sometimes I see the question posed to Prots (like me):  How do you know which books are in the Canon of Scripture?

With that in mind, I would like to ask the Orthodox here this question:  How do you know which teachings of the Orthodox Church are infallible and can you provide a list of said teachings?
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2004, 07:08:05 AM »

By infallible, do you mean essential?  I'm a bit puzzled by this question. There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential. To use a Protestant turn of phrase, Orthodox reject the idea of
fundamental doctrines that everyone MUST believe and the so-called "non-fundamental doctrines" that are optional beliefs.  To us, all doctrines are essential and fundamental.  A good place to start for a summary of Orthodox doctrine is the Symbol of the Orthodox Faith, the Nicene Creed.
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2004, 07:12:46 AM »

Perhaps the original question should be turned around, so to speak. Who determined the Canon of scripture? Where did it come from?

The answer is from Sacred Tradition as handed to us by the Church.
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2004, 08:16:57 AM »

By infallible, do you mean essential?  I'm a bit puzzled by this question. There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential. To use a Protestant turn of phrase, Orthodox reject the idea of
fundamental doctrines that everyone MUST believe and the so-called "non-fundamental doctrines" that are optional beliefs.  To us, all doctrines are essential and fundamental.  A good place to start for a summary of Orthodox doctrine is the Symbol of the Orthodox Faith, the Nicene Creed.

Well, this Protestant thinks that the Creed is a good place to start too. The question surely is: where does one stop?

Your statements here are surely overstatements; I do not feel compelled to believe that everything coming out of the mouth of an Orthodox Christian is a truth that I have to believe.
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2004, 08:29:06 AM »

...or of any random priest.  Or even an archbishop.
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2004, 08:44:07 AM »

+º+¦+¦-ü+¦-ä+¦, +í,

I would start with the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2004, 08:54:50 AM »

*Everything* in them?

Anything else?
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2004, 09:07:35 AM »

I do not feel compelled to believe that everything coming out of the mouth of an Orthodox Christian is a truth that I have to believe.


Quote
from Rho
...or of any random priest.  Or even an archbishop.  


How about from the Church as a whole instead of any singular person?  Because who holds the Deposit of Faith? Certainly not any one person or even one group of persons, but the Church as a whole, spread out through the ages and crowned by Her Head.
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2004, 11:28:37 AM »

I understand why it may have been the best word that occurred to you; however, "infallible" sounds odd to the Orthodox ear.  The term comes from Roman Catholicism; it does not "fit" into Orthodoxy, which never has been a religion that insists on codifying everything, or even on claiming to know the answer to everything.  Orthodoxy's freedom from "strait-jacket theology" can unsettle an enquirer considerably.  Even our term for what other Christians call "sacraments" -- mysteries -- indicates our willingness to acknowledge the "otherness" and mysteriousness of God, and willingness to acknowledge that humans are not inherently entitled, with some sort of "right", to access all knowledge.  (at least not in this fallen world, prior to its restoration by Christ at the end of time)  

Therefore, you never will find an exhaustive, "definitive" list of what we are supposed to believe.  As others here rightly have said, the core of our faith is embodied in The Nicene Creed, as explained by the Holy Fathers.  The decisions of the Seven Oecumenical Councils (also mentioned here) are binding on all Christians.  If you wander much further afield, you approach "thin ice."  One might suggest that you read the canons, but that would not be helpful to a beginner.  This is because some of the canons are/were for localized needs.  One must study much to know how to apply the canons appropriately.  

Your soundest endeavour would be to read a number of books on the basics of the Orthodox faith.  There are many available.  Read more than one, to guard against falling prey to inaccurate biases that can turn up in even the best of secondary literature.  ("Secondary" as opposed to reading primary sources, is what I mean.)

sincerely,

4Truth  

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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2004, 08:25:12 AM »

Quote
4TRUTH:  One might suggest that you read the canons, but that would not be helpful to a beginner.  This is because some of the canons are/were for localized needs.  One must study much to know how to apply the canons appropriately.

>>Wouldn't that mean using private interpretation, the use of which is so frequently excoriated?
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2004, 09:55:09 AM »

>>Wouldn't that mean using private interpretation, the use of which is so frequently excoriated?

Fair question, but with a "no" answer.  

The norm for concentrated religious study is to study under the guidance of a knowledgeable priest, at a seminary or through an approved distance learning course.  We learn from our "family" (i.e. the Orthodox Church), benefitting from the learning accumulated over the centuries.    

Some religious topics fall into the category of "theologoumena" (misspelled, perhaps), or topics for which there is room for personal opinion and, accordingly, for disagreement.  (Please don't ask me for a list of those!)  (as usual, a "definitive list" would not exist, anyway!)  

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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2004, 10:37:03 AM »

Rho,

While I'm not ready to get into a discussion about the concept of "infallibility" as it relates to Orthodox dogma--and I'm much less ready to get into an epistemological discussion of how I know I believe correctly!--I would like to add a few cents here. The question you asked is a very good one, and I encourage you to seek the answer to it (especially through prayer and scripture). However, I would submit that what you asked should not be thought of as being the same type of questions that Orthodox/Catholics sometimes asks Protestants about the Bible. With the latter case, we have (Protestant) groups who base their entire belief system on a finite, easily listed group of documents. Hence, the Orthodox question of "well, how did you get those documents?"  However, in the former case--the question you asked--you are not asking about what we build our entire faith around, for we are not "only dogmatists" (as opposed to "only scripture"). Much of our faith is wrapped in mystery, and learnt through experience; what's more, in the early Church (though this is less true today) the teachings were passed on more through oral instruction than written instruction. This is not just because many people were illiterate at the time, but the Fathers felt awkward even trying to write about some of the subjects, lest they be read by those outside the Church, or the teachings be abused more so than they already were. There's a reason that the Orthodox say, paraphrasing the Scripture, "come, taste and see"... that is also the answer to the epistemological side of your question, though I'm not ready to say much more than that. If you are ever able to get ahold of Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ by Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, and if you read his essays on The Theory of Knowledge of St. Isaac the Syrian, and Theanthropic and Humanistic Education, I think you would understand better than you would if I were to try to explain it. Come to think of it, some of the other essays in that book address your questions, such as Introduction To the Lives of the Saints, which speaks of how the lives of the saints are really "applied dogmatics" and other issues which might be of interent to you.
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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2004, 06:17:49 PM »

1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. (Proverbs 9:1-5)

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1st Corinthians 1:24)

The great cathedral of Constantinople was called Hagia Sophia or, "Holy Wisdom", and was called such after Christ - Christ, the Holy Wisdom.  This is because the Church, as does the New Testament (both explicitly and implicitly) recognizes that Christ is the "Holy Wisdom" spoken of in the Old Testament.

The passage I quoted from Proverbs chapter 9, appears to be as clear a prophecy of the Orthodox Church as can be said to exist - the significance of the seven great, and ecumenical Councils ostensibly being pointed to by the text, just as the Church (in such great and early Fathers like St.Irenaus) pointed to the "four beasts" surrounding the Divine Throne in the Apocalypse of St.John as being the four Holy Gospels.  The seven councils like pillars of the Church, just as the Apocalypse also pointes to the Twelve Apostles as being pillars of the Church (the "Heavenly City").

While Orthodoxy is by no means minimalistic, it can be said that some truths are more foundational and in the forefront than others - where as other truths can even be said to be only acquired or at least understood with the passage of time and the growth in grace and understanding.  In terms of those most basic truths, one will find much in the way of official definition in those seven Holy Councils.

Other sources would be those local Synods (such as the Palamite Councils) which gained "universal" or "ecumenical" status by default, through the universal acceptance of their teaching.

This great dogmatic teaching, however, is made more accessable in terms of it's practical expression - the Liturgy of the Church (which is not simply the Eucharistic Liturgy, but the entirity of the Church's public, and to a great extent even, private worship), and the local confessions and catechisms which have been used in the instruction of the faithful.  This is the most common way the Church's teachings, including their universally agreed up defition, make their way to the people.  However, everything in Orthodoxy is a vehicle for communicating such things.

Thus, if you're looking for an accurate (and detailed) expression of the Church's teachings appropriate for a reasonably intelligent adult catechumen/neophyte, I'd recommend...

a) attending liturgical services, involving yourself in the life of a parish Church, and finding for yourself a spiritual father who can offer some guidance.

b) getting a hold of one of the many good catechetical works on this subject.  I'd particularly recommend Fr.Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (published by St.Herman of Alaska Brotherhood) or Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy's The Law of God (whose publisher escapes me, but I know you can order it through skete.com).

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stanley123
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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2010, 08:02:29 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2010, 08:24:31 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

Sort of in the same category as: do all cats go to heaven.  I believe they do.  Other people think they don't.

But you'll find even donkeys in heaven.  Remember the Zeitoun appearances of the Mother of God?  And Saint Agnes' lamb?
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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2010, 09:36:53 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

Sort of in the same category as: do all cats go to heaven.  I believe they do.  Other people think they don't.

But you'll find even donkeys in heaven.  Remember the Zeitoun appearances of the Mother of God?  And Saint Agnes' lamb?

Only dogs go to heaven. Everyone knows where cats go.
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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2010, 09:38:22 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

Sort of in the same category as: do all cats go to heaven.  I believe they do.  Other people think they don't.

But you'll find even donkeys in heaven.  Remember the Zeitoun appearances of the Mother of God?  And Saint Agnes' lamb?
The claim was that all Orthodox beliefs are essential. It looks like the claim is not true?
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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2010, 09:39:27 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

Sort of in the same category as: do all cats go to heaven.  I believe they do.  Other people think they don't.

But you'll find even donkeys in heaven.  Remember the Zeitoun appearances of the Mother of God?  And Saint Agnes' lamb?

Only dogs go to heaven. Everyone knows where cats go.
I don;t see how this Orthodox belief would be essential.
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« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2010, 09:39:57 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=17044.0
Quote
Theologoumena and pious opinions, OTOH, are actually the same thing.  In fact, "pious opinion" is the very definition of theologoumen, iirc.  Basically, one can think of a theologoumen as being a pious opinion that does not contradict the dogmas of the faith but is not required by any dogmas, either.  An example of this would be the pious belief that each of us is assigned a guardian angel upon his/her baptism.  To my knowledge, there's nothing in the Apostolic deposit of faith that requires one to believe such, but neither is there anything in our Tradition forbidding such belief.  Hence, this belief is relegated to the area of pious opinion, or theologoumen.
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« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2010, 09:41:24 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

Sort of in the same category as: do all cats go to heaven.  I believe they do.  Other people think they don't.

But you'll find even donkeys in heaven.  Remember the Zeitoun appearances of the Mother of God?  And Saint Agnes' lamb?

Only dogs go to heaven. Everyone knows where cats go.
I don;t see how this Orthodox belief would be essential.

LOL. You kill me.
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« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2010, 09:44:50 PM »

There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential.
What about the belief in the toll houses?

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=17044.0
Quote
Theologoumena and pious opinions, OTOH, are actually the same thing.  In fact, "pious opinion" is the very definition of theologoumen, iirc.  Basically, one can think of a theologoumen as being a pious opinion that does not contradict the dogmas of the faith but is not required by any dogmas, either.  An example of this would be the pious belief that each of us is assigned a guardian angel upon his/her baptism.  To my knowledge, there's nothing in the Apostolic deposit of faith that requires one to believe such, but neither is there anything in our Tradition forbidding such belief.  Hence, this belief is relegated to the area of pious opinion, or theologoumen.
The claim was that all Orthodox beliefs are essential. He says yes, but you say no.
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« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2010, 09:57:45 PM »


The claim was that all Orthodox beliefs are essential. He says yes, but you say no.

Is Orthodoxy minimalist or maximalist in its faith?

See message 3 at this link
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19506.msg288359.html#msg288359
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« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2010, 10:05:11 PM »


The claim was that all Orthodox beliefs are essential. He says yes, but you say no.

Is Orthodoxy minimalist or maximalist in its faith?

See message 3 at this link
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19506.msg288359.html#msg288359

Me? I refer to two other Orthodox posters for my post. As for toll houses, it's not a universally accepted belief but certaintly theologoumena. Or do I misunderstand you?
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« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2010, 10:15:43 PM »


The claim was that all Orthodox beliefs are essential. He says yes, but you say no.

Is Orthodoxy minimalist or maximalist in its faith?

See message 3 at this link
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19506.msg288359.html#msg288359

Me? I refer to two other Orthodox posters for my post. As for toll houses, it's not a universally accepted belief but certaintly theologoumena. Or do I misunderstand you?

Some people think that it should not be dignified even with the status of a theologoumenon.  They think that it introduces serious aberration into the teaching on soteriology.

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« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2010, 10:19:02 PM »


The claim was that all Orthodox beliefs are essential. He says yes, but you say no.

Is Orthodoxy minimalist or maximalist in its faith?

See message 3 at this link
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19506.msg288359.html#msg288359

Me? I refer to two other Orthodox posters for my post. As for toll houses, it's not a universally accepted belief but certaintly theologoumena. Or do I misunderstand you?

Some people think that it should not be dignified even with the status of a theologoumenon.  They think that it introduces serious aberration into the teaching on soteriology.



Oh.

Yeah, I can see that.
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« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2010, 10:26:07 PM »

Not wanting to derail this thread with a toll house discussion so just the links to these interesting posts.

Toll Houses: dogma, a logic of damnation, and taking the implications seriously

Part i
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2145.msg300562.html#msg300562

Part ii
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2145.msg300616.html#msg300616

Part iii
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2145.msg300770.html#msg300770
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2010, 04:19:19 AM »

By infallible, do you mean essential?  I'm a bit puzzled by this question. There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential. To use a Protestant turn of phrase, Orthodox reject the idea of
fundamental doctrines that everyone MUST believe and the so-called "non-fundamental doctrines" that are optional beliefs.  To us, all doctrines are essential and fundamental.  A good place to start for a summary of Orthodox doctrine is the Symbol of the Orthodox Faith, the Nicene Creed.

Given that there are plenty of beliefs which are not officially defined and are speculated upon with theologumenon, what you say here is most likely not true.
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2010, 08:29:17 AM »

By infallible, do you mean essential?  I'm a bit puzzled by this question. There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential. To use a Protestant turn of phrase, Orthodox reject the idea of
fundamental doctrines that everyone MUST believe and the so-called "non-fundamental doctrines" that are optional beliefs.  To us, all doctrines are essential and fundamental.  A good place to start for a summary of Orthodox doctrine is the Symbol of the Orthodox Faith, the Nicene Creed.

Given that there are plenty of beliefs which are not officially defined and are speculated upon with theologumenon, what you say here is most likely not true.

Within Orthodoxy you will not find such highly developed expressions of doctrine as in the Western Churches but that does not mean our Tradition is up for grabs or that it is going to fall over.  For example, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the dormition and assumption of Mary the Mother of God - very little by way of definition.   BUT if we turn to our liturgical sources we find that these things are expressed with stunning and *undeniable* certainty.   It is adopting a Roman Catholic point of view to think that doctrine comes to us only through official definitions and that beliefs which do not enjoy a magisterial definition are uncertain and changeable.  To understand what Orthodoxy believes we need to look at everything that Tradition embraces; much of that has no official definition.

Or to put this another way, there is often no need to go scrabbling for "official definitions" - we can also ask:  what is contained in our liturgical services?  What teaching is presented there?
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« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2010, 11:54:49 AM »

Sometimes I see the question posed to Prots (like me):  How do you know which books are in the Canon of Scripture?

With that in mind, I would like to ask the Orthodox here this question:  How do you know which teachings of the Orthodox Church are infallible and can you provide a list of said teachings?

Hi Rho--It seems to me that you are not entirely happy with the question posed to Protestants like you, that is, how do you know which books are in the canon of Scripture. May be because you think this is a trick question that leads into an argument against Sola Scriptura? However, it seems to me that you are using another trick question to get even, this time asking Orthodox folks which teachings are infallible. Fair enough. Now, can we get serious?

The Orthodox Church is Christ-centered, Bible-based, and Spirit-filled. In short, it is indeed the continuation of the New Testament Church. Open the New Testament and you will find the Orthodox Church's teachings. Read the dogmatic decisions, particularly those on the Lord, and thus the Holy Trinity, and you will find how the Church has erected walls around the ineffable truths that the Lord and His Holy Apostles taught. Listen to the Church's holy services and you will be struck how much they are based on the Holy Scriptures and how much they teach us about the teachings of the Lord. So please let us not play at this. If you are curious, "come and see."
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« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2010, 01:56:40 PM »


Hi Rho--It seems to me that you are not entirely happy with the question posed to Protestants like you...

"Rho" posted this in 2004 and hasn't posted since 2005, so it seems like a dated discussion.
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« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2010, 02:34:18 PM »


Hi Rho--It seems to me that you are not entirely happy with the question posed to Protestants like you...

"Rho" posted this in 2004 and hasn't posted since 2005, so it seems like a dated discussion.

Thanks for the info. It is interesting that "Rho" seems a bit similar to a current poster, a Mr. Alfred Perrson. In any case, I think I shall reuse my second paragraph in another thread. Thanks again.
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« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2010, 05:31:41 PM »


Only dogs go to heaven. Everyone knows where cats go.

Back to their home planet? Wink (like the Disney movie 'The Cat from Outer Space'?) Cheesy
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« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2010, 05:45:40 PM »

Only dogs go to heaven.
I am not too happy about this teaching that dogs go to heaven. I am kept awake all night long by barking from these vicious attack dogs of the neighbors. I thought that when I expired, I could get some peace and quiet and be released from this terrible barking and snarling of these vicious dogs, but now are you telling me that according to the Orthodox Church, these dogs will be in heaven? I'll take the Catholic teaching any day that heaven does not have any of these vicious snarling, barking dogs ready to pounce and attack you as you walk by.
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« Reply #33 on: September 08, 2010, 07:49:17 PM »

Perhaps in Heaven those vicious attack dogs will be kept under control by the "Hound of Heaven".  Smiley
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« Reply #34 on: September 08, 2010, 08:07:41 PM »

Only dogs go to heaven.
I am not too happy about this teaching that dogs go to heaven. I am kept awake all night long by barking from these vicious attack dogs of the neighbors. I thought that when I expired, I could get some peace and quiet and be released from this terrible barking and snarling of these vicious dogs, but now are you telling me that according to the Orthodox Church, these dogs will be in heaven? I'll take the Catholic teaching any day that heaven does not have any of these vicious snarling, barking dogs ready to pounce and attack you as you walk by.
There most likely will be seeing-eye dogs in heaven, so get ready.
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« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2010, 09:43:19 PM »

By infallible, do you mean essential?  I'm a bit puzzled by this question. There are no "optional doctrines" in the Orthodox faith. All of our beliefs are essential. To use a Protestant turn of phrase, Orthodox reject the idea of
fundamental doctrines that everyone MUST believe and the so-called "non-fundamental doctrines" that are optional beliefs.  To us, all doctrines are essential and fundamental.  A good place to start for a summary of Orthodox doctrine is the Symbol of the Orthodox Faith, the Nicene Creed.

I disagree with this. Some beliefs are optional. Earlier on this forum, we discussed the martyrdom of St Gabriel in Belarus at the hands of Jews as a child blood sacrifice. Our opinion was that this was a made-up blood libel story, like the ones in Europe.
That this child was a saint due to his martyrdom in a Jewish blood libel is a tradition of the church, but I personally do not believe in that particular tradition.


What we Orthodox consider infallible- not possibly wrong- are the Ecumenical Councils when confirmed by the entirety of the church.

Kallistos Ware has explained that there are 7 sources of church authority- icons, church fathers, the Bible, the Councils, and 3 others.

But My understanding is that only the Councils when confirmed are infallible.

I am not sure we can even say that every word in the Bible is "infallible", because it has contradictions, and Jesus overcame some vengeful OT rules like an eye for an eye. Generally, the Bible was written by Men inspired by the holy spirit. But maybe it is the case that the Bible too is infallible when understood correctly.

Regards.
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« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2010, 09:47:02 PM »

I understand why it may have been the best word that occurred to you; however, "infallible" sounds odd to the Orthodox ear.  The term comes from Roman Catholicism; it does not "fit" into Orthodoxy, which never has been a religion that insists on codifying everything, or even on claiming to know the answer to everything.  Orthodoxy's freedom from "strait-jacket theology" can unsettle an enquirer considerably.  Even our term for what other Christians call "sacraments" -- mysteries -- indicates our willingness to acknowledge the "otherness" and mysteriousness of God, and willingness to acknowledge that humans are not inherently entitled, with some sort of "right", to access all knowledge.  (at least not in this fallen world, prior to its restoration by Christ at the end of time)  

Therefore, you never will find an exhaustive, "definitive" list of what we are supposed to believe.  As others here rightly have said, the core of our faith is embodied in The Nicene Creed, as explained by the Holy Fathers.  The decisions of the Seven Oecumenical Councils (also mentioned here) are binding on all Christians.  If you wander much further afield, you approach "thin ice."  One might suggest that you read the canons, but that would not be helpful to a beginner.  This is because some of the canons are/were for localized needs.  One must study much to know how to apply the canons appropriately.  

Good points and explanation.
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« Reply #37 on: September 08, 2010, 10:04:16 PM »

With that in mind, I would like to ask the Orthodox here this question:  How do you know which teachings of the Orthodox Church are infallible and can you provide a list of said teachings?

Infallible? Why ask that question? The infallibility of the Church is inseparably connected with the indefectibility of the Church, that meaning its members will never all apostatize. Thus, to really get an infallible statement you'd have to somehow get every single bishop of the Church together and put them to the test on an official issue of dogma. And that has never happened in all of Church history.

We can speak of teachings that are dogmatic and supremely authoritative, but infallible is a whole 'nother matter.

As to that, I would say go with Nicaea I, Constantinople I, and Ephesus I as a start.
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« Reply #38 on: September 08, 2010, 10:06:10 PM »

It is hard to speak of an Orthodox understanding of "infallibility" with the precision of the Roman Catholics since the concept and the word does not exist in Slavonic nor in Greek. The Russian word commonly forced into use is nepogreshimost - but since that really carries the meaning of "impeccability" you can see how open to misinterpretation it is.

Can I also recommend a quick read of this message.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23258.msg354564.html#msg354564

It is important not to take for granted that the Orthodox have the same understanding of "infallibility" as Western theological systems.

Since there has been no attempt here to offer an Orthodox definition of "infallibility" it is not surprising that the discussion is a bit loosey goosey.  Grin
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« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2010, 01:07:29 AM »

I understand why it may have been the best word that occurred to you; however, "infallible" sounds odd to the Orthodox ear.  The term comes from Roman Catholicism; it does not "fit" into Orthodoxy, which never has been a religion that insists on codifying everything, or even on claiming to know the answer to everything.  Orthodoxy's freedom from "strait-jacket theology" can unsettle an enquirer considerably.  Even our term for what other Christians call "sacraments" -- mysteries -- indicates our willingness to acknowledge the "otherness" and mysteriousness of God, and willingness to acknowledge that humans are not inherently entitled, with some sort of "right", to access all knowledge.  (at least not in this fallen world, prior to its restoration by Christ at the end of time)  

Therefore, you never will find an exhaustive, "definitive" list of what we are supposed to believe.  As others here rightly have said, the core of our faith is embodied in The Nicene Creed, as explained by the Holy Fathers.  The decisions of the Seven Oecumenical Councils (also mentioned here) are binding on all Christians.  If you wander much further afield, you approach "thin ice."  One might suggest that you read the canons, but that would not be helpful to a beginner.  This is because some of the canons are/were for localized needs.  One must study much to know how to apply the canons appropriately.  

Good points and explanation.
Yes. I think that this explains it quite nicely for the interested non-Orthodox Christian.
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