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Author Topic: Neo-Papal Patriarchalism  (Read 5669 times) Average Rating: 0
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Keble
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« on: August 13, 2004, 01:55:33 AM »

I prefer to take this up as a separate issue from the Milan Synod discussion.

Serge is promoting something called neo-papal-patriarchalism. It is a grave ecclesiological error that is influenced by the need to have everything neat and orderly and in it's place, even at the expense of orthodoxy. You can find out about this error by searching Google or other search engines.

Interestingly, what you find in doing the search is, well, very little. A standard Google search only returns eight references, of which two are multiple references to the same site and three are forum references, all of which seem to trace back to one of the three "primary" references: this page at the OCIC site. The other two "primary" references are at a site of an "American Orthodox Church" (apparently vagante-- they claim to be part of some Ukrainian church) and in an article by one "Archbishop Chrysostomos", who appears to be part of a "Synod in Resistance" and I am guessing is the originator of the term.

One of the forum messages refers disparagingly to Al Green (of the notorious list of vagante Orthodox groups. Here is where I think the term gets into trouble. Al is, if I remember correctly, a member of one of churches which is in communion with the EP. Hence, his standard of communion need not be a theological point; it may merely derive from his communion with the EP. If he is Orthodox, then those in communion with him (transitively) may be presumed to be Orthodox-- not because they necessarily are Orthodox in belief, but because one has to draw the line somewhere.

That's why I doubt that this error actually occurs. It's sort of the same issue that occurs in distinguishing the various subgroups of Anglicans. There is one ironclad standard: if you are a bishop, and you are invited to Lambeth, then you are Anglican. The various groups that have separated from the Episcopal Church therefore have to resolve the problem of how to be Anglican without being invited to Lambeth (because they aren't, because they are laying claim to ECUSA territory among other issues). But for the most part-- maybe entirely-- they have succession problems. Nobody in Anglicanism takes seriously the notion that being in communion with Canterbury is a theological or sacramental requisite for being Anglican, never mind a church. That said, someone within the communion is going to use that as the standard for Anglicanism. The same pattern seems to exist in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2004, 02:43:20 AM »

Archbishop Chysostomos is indeed a real bishop and part of a legitimate synod (they are the Greeks in communion with ROCOR, FWIW).  I don't have the time to actually get into this debate, but other Orthodox Theologians have written about this topic.  It just shows that once again google tends to give certain people the false sense that they can become an expert an anythign and everything.
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2004, 10:27:33 AM »

I've spoken about the issue to some length, both at this forum and at the Cafe. Here is my latest post on the subject, complete with my making a dumb mistake at the end of the thread because I was being judgmental. Smiley  As to where I got the term from personally, I don't recall; but my main "source" of inspiration for writing on this topic has always been this quote by St. Justin Popovich:

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Moreover, is it correct, is it Orthodox to have such representations of the Orthodox Churches at various pan Orthodox gatherings on Rhodes or in Geneva? The representatives of Constantinople who began this system of representation of Orthodox Churches at the councils and those who accept this principle which, according to their theory, is in accord with the "system of autocephalous and autonomous" local Churches - they have forgotten that such a principle in fact contradicts the conciliar tradition of Orthodoxy. Unfortunately this principle of representation was accepted quickly and by all the other Orthodox: sometimes silently, sometimes with voted protests, but forgetting that the Orthodox Church, in its nature and its dogmatically unchanging constitution is episcopal and centred in the bishops. For the bishop and the faithful gathered around him are the expression and manifestation of the Church as the Body of Christ, especially in the Holy Liturgy: the Church is Apostolic and Catholic only by virtue of its bishops, insofar as they are the heads of true ecclesiastical units, the dioceses. At the same time, the other, historically later and variable forms of church organisation of the Orthodox Church: the metropolias, archdioceses, patriarchates, pentarchias, autocephalies, autonomies, etc., however many there may be or shall be, cannot have and do not have a determining and decisive significance in the conciliar system of the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, they may constitute an obstacle in the correct functioning of the conciliar principle if they obstruct and reject the episcopal character and structure of the Church and of the Churches. Here, undoubtedly, is to be found the primary difference between Orthodox and papal ecclesiology. - On a Summoning of the Great Council of the Orthodox Church

PS. This subject was one of the first subjects Serge and I debated over at the Cafe, and I've since learned to, as best I can, avoid wherever he is, since I end up saying something stupid or harsh whenever I enter into such discussions. With that in mind, I'll now leave you gentleman and gentleladies to thrash it out amongst yourselves Smiley
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Keble
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2004, 12:38:14 PM »

Archbishop Chysostomos is indeed a real bishop and part of a legitimate synod (they are the Greeks in communion with ROCOR, FWIW).

That begs the question a bit: legitimate in whose eyes? Note: I'm not challenging you to defend them, but it seems curious that a bishop who is (transitively) in communion with the EP needs to be concerned about such an issue.

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I don't have the time to actually get into this debate, but other Orthodox Theologians have written about this topic.  It just shows that once again google tends to give certain people the false sense that they can become an expert an anythign and everything.  

Lest we get huffy about this, I merely responded to the suggestion that I use Google. I did, and reported the results. I'm not particularly interested in the words of unnamed theologians of uncertain affiliation who said unspecified things; when they are given names and churches and statements, I shall care.
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2004, 01:09:22 PM »

Unfortunately, Paradosis, your link to the discussion between you and Serge is ill-formed, so it is difficult to locate what you said earlier.

But as for the words of Justin Popovich, again, in the historical context of his statement it is not clear that the accusation holds. When it comes to holding such a council, the problem of who comes is incapable of such symmetry. If the invitations issue from a point, then it would naturally follow that the invitees would be in communion with that locus; if not, then it would seem that anyone who considers themselves Orthodox and a bishop may appear, and thus, when the "monophysites" show up, the council will founder at the doors. The problem is necessarily a practical one, and a political one, and thus not necessarily a political one.

To sidetrack a minute: Serge's issue is with an entirely different point. Discussion of eclessiology inevitably works from the first principle of "wherever I am, there is the church. Hence, the ecclesiology of those who want to be not in communion with the EP must inevitably justify that separation. Objectivity is rather difficult; in a sense, it's easier for me here because I don't have a horse in this race.

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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2004, 02:13:50 PM »

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Unfortunately, Paradosis, your link to the discussion between you and Serge is ill-formed, so it is difficult to locate what you said earlier.

The only difference between then (at least a year ago) and now is then I was participating in e-Cafe in a well-meant but misguided attempt to stay online friends with Nik and it sounded like I was trying to represent the Orthodox, which I don't claim to do today.

The basic ideas were the same - the Orthodox get to decide who's Orthodox, not Justin Kissel. Just like (good analogy) Anglican = invited to Lambeth.

Constantinople and the claims made by or for it - of being something like the Orthodox Vatican - have nada to do with it.

It's more like 'there is the Orthodox communion, which determines who is and isn't in the club, and Constantinople happens to be in that communion'.
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2004, 06:45:52 PM »

I think there's one more point to be made. Judging from where I see this "heresy" invoked on-line, the intent of it is not to expand Orthodoxy beyond "canonical" Orthodoxy; it is to exclude the "canonical" churches altogether from Orthodoxy. If the intent were the former, then the argument would make more sense. But in the latter case, it's (again) a political assertion. Justin Popovich may well be intent on the first sense, of an expanded Orthodoxy. Such an expansion, it seems to me, has no hope in the face of all the various denials that some other group is Orthodox, especially with all the denials of transitive communion. It's hard to tell, for instance, that there is any non-trivial set of Orthodox churches which are all in communion with each other but not in communion transitively with Constantinople.

But if there were such a group, the division between it and Constantinople would be political as well as having any other character that it might have. Hence the accusation also reads as political. Again, the matter at hand is whether the EP-centric principle is derived from the current state of affairs, or whether it is a principle that is irrelevant as to the occupier of the office. That's why I'm not convinced; there seems to be a definite and exact correlation as to whether one considers the current patriarch (and by extension, the Greek church) as acceptable or not.
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2004, 06:56:37 PM »

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I think there's one more point to be made. Judging from where I see this "heresy" invoked on-line, the intent of it is not to expand Orthodoxy beyond "canonical" Orthodoxy; it is to exclude the "canonical" churches altogether from Orthodoxy.

That's exactly the intent. Which is exactly what the Old Believers did and do.

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Justin Popovich may well be intent on the first sense, of an expanded Orthodoxy.

IOW, God can give grace anywhere.
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2004, 01:17:41 PM »

I feel as if I am beating a dead horse here, but there's another tack at this which I want to examine.

Somewhere along the "Milan" line, Augustine said:

In simple terms, the status of a body as Orthodox, fundamentally boils down to whether or not they are in fact Orthodox.  That may sound odd, but it's amazing how neat, quasi-Papist ecclessiologies typically miss this fundamental point.  Besides Orthodoxy of faith, canonicity of foundation is almost as important (though not as, since even this in some measure can be qualified, as history demonstrates.)

This seems to indicate that a certain objectivity is possible in this determination. The problem is, every time I try to invoke this objectivity, people start complaining that I'm "not Orthodox" and have no standing to make a determination.

There is plainly an issue inside of this as to who gets to say how the Fathers get interpreted. But it's really circular. For the conversation to be meaningful, somewhere along the line one must admit that one's own church can be held up for judgement against the standards it sets.
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2004, 08:58:04 PM »

My concern is that the Patriarch of Constantinople will think of himself as a popelike figure rather than the Patriarch he is.  I think that being educated in Rome he has had a less than positive effect on his heirarchy and his position in the Orthodox Church in general.   My question is: Who or what does he think he is?  I need a definition of his position and responsibilities since his ecoumenical meeting with Pope John Paul II?   Seriously seeking an answer here.

I really want him to define himself.

JoeS  :-";"xx
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2004, 10:16:58 AM »

Obviously any self selecting group can define it's own membership and who it does or does not recognize.  On that level, I agree with Serge.

The problem is that such "self selection" and self identification as being "Orthodox", does not settle the matter, not in and of itself.  All it settles is that there are a group of people who call themselves such, and they recognize some, while not recognizing others.  Well, "duh".

However, there is a question of authenticity being discussed here, which goes beyond people simply claiming to be such and such.  Further, what is being hashed out is just what gives this "authenticity".

Though not typically using it as a nominal title ("Orthodox"), strictly speaking (though more clearly in times past) the Roman Catholics regard themselves as the "orthodox" Church.  While they can present evidences for why they think this is, what ultimatly defines this for them, is communion with the Pope.  Want to know who is a schismatic?  Simple - who isn't in communion with the Pope or those in communion with him.  Want to know who is a heretic? Simple, whoever does not recognize the teaching endorsed by the Pope.  Ultimatly, "truth" is put aside in such an ecclessiology - one need not "trouble their little heads" over such matters - all that is needful is to be subject to the one, unfailing man, who is the "rock" and "foundation" of the Church.

Even reasonably informed persons who make no pretense to being "Orthodox" (or even "Christian") know, this is not the historic Orthodox teaching.  Yet it seems there are some self professed Orthodox, who make claims that it is (in a modified form.)  Replace "Papacy" with "Pentarchy" or "Ecumenical Patriarch" or "the majority of heirarchs", or some other nifty formula.  It all amounts to basically the same thing, and if Papism is indeed anathema to Orthodoxy, then neither are any of these formulas defensable.  Hence why some modern confessors call such an "Orthodox" ecclessiology, "neo-papal"...the new papism.

While genuine Christians have always called themselves "Catholic", I think there is good reason why after struggling with so many heresies, they have ultimatly gravitated toward the identification of being "Orthodox" - because it is orthodoxy which is the fundamental criteria, the most important criteria, in determining Christian authenticity.  This is not to say oness, holiness, catholicity, or apostolicity are not important - nay, they are essential.  Yet hard experience has made apparent (if the identification of Christ with Truth did not from the beginning) that all of those essential qualities of the genuine Church, have intertwined with them truth - the correct doctrine, the correct praxis, the correct glorification of God.

False teachers can claim unity with those who are likeminded.

For false teachers claim holiness (and while contradicting one another, can very well give the appearance of such; one can speculate all they want about what such an appearance really means, obviously.)

False teachers can claim a universality of sorts (all claim to be telling the "real" truth)

False teachers can claim to be apostolic (pointing to the external laying on of hands, occupation of ancient church buildings and worldly establishments, etc.)

Yet, what ultimatly "undoes" such wolves, is what they say and what they do.  All of their claims come to naught, because all lack truth - Orthodoxy.

The Arians had their unity.  They were even the majority for a time.  They also had their "mystics" and "ascetics", and "learned men."  They undoubtedly claimed to represent the genuine lineage from the Apostles.  They even regarded genuine confessors as being schismatics, men to be despised.

Of course, I wouldn't claim that realizing orthodoxy is fundamental to claims to possessing the "four marks" or however one chooses to judge ecclessiastical authenticity solves the matter by itself.  If modern philosophers have demonstrated anything, it is the "problem of knowledge", or the arriving at it to begin with.  What I am saying though, is that simply saying what amounts to "because we say so" is unsatisfactory, save for the already converted (whether such a flip remark comes from a Pope, or from the Ecumenical Patriarch.)

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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2004, 11:17:29 AM »

What is it then that the Orthodox can point to to demonstrate that they--and not the RCC, Non-Chalcedonians, Nestorians, or Protestants, or Arians--have the "fullness of the truth" without resorting to circular reasoning?  I ask this as one who is still exploring (and is still drawn to) the Orthodox church.
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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2004, 12:28:10 PM »

Thomas,

Quote
What is it then that the Orthodox can point to to demonstrate that they--and not the RCC, Non-Chalcedonians, Nestorians, or Protestants, or Arians--have the "fullness of the truth" without resorting to circular reasoning?  I ask this as one who is still exploring (and is still drawn to) the Orthodox church.

Good question, and one which I don't pretend to be able to answer, or at least give an entirely satisfactory answer to.

Though in hindsight we often give reasons for why we think or do things, I think for most people these rationalizations (and I'm not using this term in a derogatory way) are not the basic reason for why they are, as they are.

We first come to know of Christ, because someone told us about Him.  If dismissed (consciously or unconciously - I think there are plenty of people who in fact dismiss Christ, though consider themselves to be Christians) as a theory, or an abstraction, little will come of it.

However for those who realize He is not a mere idea (though certainly we have ideas about Him), I think it's fair to say a revelation has occured.  This is not the end of it obviously, but an essential begining.

"Truth" is synonymous with reality, and vice versa.  Something is true, in so far as it is real.  This is "true" even of thoughts or things which we may commonly regard as being immaterial (though certainly not always inconsequential.)

Faced with the concrete, reality of Christ, we are left with what to make of Him.  A Prophet?  A Sage?  More?  And if "more", how much more?

I think there are many ways toward understanding.  It can come through different premises, different experiences or assumptions.  Though generalizations can be made, it's also very individual as well.

Speaking personally, I believe in God, because I can no longer fathom anything else.  "Atheism" just passes the buck to materiality, which contradicts both experience and reason - it is really just irreverent/irreligious "theism" of a crude, idolatrous sort.  I believe in Christ, fundamentally (though there is much else on the periphery and subsequently that confirms this fundamental rational) because even without ever previously realizing it, He reveals something about myself - that deep down, this is how I (somehow?) believe God is.  He is God incarnate - not simply as some creedal formula to tie up some perceived soteriological "loose ends", but that the way this Nazarene was/is, is precisely how God is...but illustrated for us concretely, with physicality, in the mire and troubles of our own existance.  If we must (and we must!) have God's loving-patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and patience "enfleshed" for us to behold in terms we can understand, it is Jesus Christ - most particularly, Christ crucified.  While the Crucifix is certainly a symbol uniting us in type to a particular, pivotal event in the history of all things, it is really also the "story" of the entire history of God's dealings with us shamelessly wicked creatures.

I think I understand how/why the Roman centurian (a pagan, who probably hardly knew a thing about Jewish messianic prophecies, aside from the hysteria and sense of expectation that filled many of the Jews he and his Emperor were ruling and occupying) said, upon witnessing the Passion of our Lord, "truly this man was the Son of God" (St.Mark 15:39).

For me, everything else is an extension/consequence of this.  Of course, there are things involved here which I readily admit are beyond any rational description...not to mention that all of this ultimatly takes place within the grace of God (and why I readily conceed that not everyone's way toward Christ and His Church involves the same set of facts or circumstances.)  Obviously I had to also ask "who ultimatly tells us of this good news?"  Though I may have heard something of it originally from Protestants and Roman Catholics (and for this much I am in their debt), where did they hear of this?  This combined with other things, dumped me at the steps of Orthodoxy - for one way or another, they were ultimatly the first witnesses and followers of Christ, or those who have continued in that unambiguously clear, first witness (the most fundamental meaning of the term "apostolic succession", btw. - in reality, the "laying on of hands" part is the least important, though still obviously essential, part of that "process.")

But like I said, people's experiences and the particulars of their "ways" differ - your mileage may vary. Smiley

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« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2004, 12:55:35 PM »


For me, everything else is an extension/consequence of this.  Of course, there are things involved here which I readily admit are beyond any rational description...not to mention that all of this ultimatly takes place within the grace of God (and why I readily conceed that not everyone's way toward Christ and His Church involves the same set of facts or circumstances.)  Obviously I had to also ask "who ultimatly tells us of this good news?"  Though I may have heard something of it originally from Protestants and Roman Catholics (and for this much I am in their debt), where did they hear of this?  This combined with other things, dumped me at the steps of Orthodoxy - for one way or another, they were ultimatly the first witnesses and followers of Christ, or those who have continued in that unambiguously clear, first witness (the most fundamental meaning of the term "apostolic succession", btw. - in reality, the "laying on of hands" part is the least important, though still obviously essential, part of that "process.")



Thanks for your response.  I guess what I'm trying to get at is that RCs (for example) claim that they are the original church and that the Orthodox branched off from them?  How does one know who is right about who branched off from whom?

Similarly the 3rd and 4th councils are accepted by both the RCs and the Orthodox but the latter is rejected by the Non-Chalcedonians and the former by the "Nestorians".  How does one know that the RCs and EOs are right on these and the others wrong other than majority rule or circular reasoning?  As you pointed, out the majority at one time embraced Arianism.  

There are some cynics who would suggest imperial politics played a role in what was to be believed (though history suggests this is much too simplistic).  Protestants I've discussed this with claim that "history is told by the winners" as the reason why the "Nestorians" (who once outnumbered the "Catholics") have been branded as heretics.   Not a few Protestants have given the example of the Nestorians (and the Novatians and Donatists) as being true Christians who refused to bow to pope or emperor in an attempt to somehow prove it is not necessary to be part of the organized imperial church which was corrupted by the marriage of church to state.  Others have suggested that since the Nestorians lay outside the frontiers of the Empire they should be faulted for not accepting the decisions of an imperial council (especially when their churches weren't represented at those councils).

I don't mean to ramble on.  I'm just trying to come to some objective way of determining which church maintained the apostolic faith, and not just following my subjective hunch.  Perhaps such knowledge will ultimately remain elusive for me.  :-
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« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2004, 04:14:51 PM »

I don't mean to ramble on.  I'm just trying to come to some objective way of determining which church maintained the apostolic faith, and not just following my subjective hunch.  Perhaps such knowledge will ultimately remain elusive for me.  Embarrassed
This, unfortunately, was for me a question I didn't really consider: how to convince others of the "objective and obvious truth" of Orthodoxy.  As Augustine put it, there's really no way to truly answer it; it's fallible humans trusting an infallible Church (whichever one THAT is...  Roll Eyes)  We all make decisions for ourselves, and sometimes those decisions differ.  For me and those with whom I come in contact, my recourse is simply to outline for them what tipped my scales in favor of Orthodoxy as opposed to anything else.  That, true, is just one man's opinion, and there are at least as many more out there as there are other people, but it is a witness.  That, I think, is all we can really do, in and of ourselves.

Prayer, too.  Both for ourselves and other seekers.  That's even more important, as all of this should be a search, not for doctrine (at least, not primarily), but for the living, real Christ.  Sometimes He's found in spite of His followers by folks who are willing to look past the dross.  Guess that's why they call it faith.
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« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2004, 06:01:04 PM »

However, there is a question of authenticity being discussed here, which goes beyond people simply claiming to be such and such.  Further, what is being hashed out is just what gives this "authenticity".

Though not typically using it as a nominal title ("Orthodox"), strictly speaking (though more clearly in times past) the Roman Catholics regard themselves as the "orthodox" Church.

... and likewise the Orthodox churches (as a group) consider themselve to be catholic (it's in the creed, after all). Some of us would say that this reflects a difference in emphasis between the two groups.

Quote
While they can present evidences for why they think this is, what ultimatly defines this for them, is communion with the Pope.  Want to know who is a schismatic?  Simple - who isn't in communion with the Pope or those in communion with him.  Want to know who is a heretic? Simple, whoever does not recognize the teaching endorsed by the Pope.

Schism and heresy are different in this regard. In fact, with regard to schism the problem is so trivial that it hardly merits discussion except as a footnote to the discussion of heresy.

If a church points to some infallible authority, then one simply substitutes the appropriate phrase for "endorsed by the Pope". Presumably, the Orthodox would substitute "found in the Fathers". This is a little less simple, to be sure, because of the need to interpret the Fathers. But then, that probllem is actually there in the Catholic version too.

After all, when a bishop says that "the Pope teaches", he is de facto interpreting, at any level from trivial to dubious. This is not a moot point; the teaching from Dominus Iesus that (for instance) Apostolicae Curae enjoys papal infallibility is Ratizinger's interpretation; within the RC church this interpretation is widely disputed. But likewise, when a bishop says that "the Fathers teach", he is also interpreting, and in the same manner. Andwhen one has to choose which bishop's interpretation.... well, this is drifting into Anglican theories about theologizing, straight from Richard Hooker.

Quote
Ultimatly, "truth" is put aside in such an ecclessiology - one need not "trouble their little heads" over such matters - all that is needful is to be subject to the one, unfailing man, who is the "rock" and "foundation" of the Church.

Protestants would, as a rule, object to this phenomenon wherever it arises; faith in the (interpreted) Fathers is, in its way, another "don't trouble your little head" issue. Deciding which infallible authority to follow makes moot the question of infallibility in the first place.

But there are two complications. First, I don't see anyone making this specific claim about the office of the EP; people make similar statements about Cantuar as "leader of the world's Anglicans" and nobody seriously believes he has any direct authority over anyone in ECUSA.

The other issue is that in episcopal polity, it's not good enough to be right; you need to be a bishop, and you need to be sacramentally within the historical church, both through succession and in communion. Now, there seems to be some fudging about communion, because as a matter of practice communion in Orthodoxy isn't transitive even though in theory it ought to be. But in theory, if the EP isn't a heretic, then an Orthodoxy bishop should be in communion with him.

I think I'm about to disagree with Serge a bit here, as I'm about to draw a very fine distinction about the notion of vagante bishops. The classic vagante was claiming ecclesial authority that he didn't have; in essence, he tried to extend the communion farther than it properly would go. The groups in question here practice what I will call "dead branch ecclesiology": the EP and their bishops trace back to the same roots, but heresy has "pruned off" the present EP from the church. This is thus about setting up a rival hierarchy.

BUT

even with this distinction, the problem is that the extension-vs.-supplanting division is not sharp. Schism-for-heresy supplanters (e.g. old believer groups) try to use the same historic authority that the "canonical" groups use for their historical authority. So-- if your church traces back to bishops who are deposed, how legitimate is it, anyway?

Quote
Yet it seems there are some self professed Orthodox, who make claims that it is (in a modified form.)  Replace "Papacy" with "Pentarchy" or "Ecumenical Patriarch" or "the majority of heirarchs", or some other nifty formula.  It all amounts to basically the same thing, and if Papism is indeed anathema to Orthodoxy, then neither are any of these formulas defensable.

The problem here, as I seem to be repeating, is that the logic here is ill-formed. IF the EP is not heretical, THEN you need to be in communion with him-- but not because his office guarantees that he isn't heretical. The question has to be phrased properly to get an unambiguous answer; if the question were, "if the EP was a heretic, would you be excommunicate from him?" then I suspect the people you accuse would say, "of course, but he isn't a heretic." The "neo-papal" answer would be, "he cannot be a heretic."

The implied statement you seem to be making is that it's good enough simply to hold the right theological opinions. But that's a very low Protestant way of looking at it, and not compatible with episcopal polity. In Orthodoxy, the response to holding the right opinions is to be affiliated/in communion with a bishop who holds the right opinions too.
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« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2004, 09:31:53 AM »

Thomas,

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Thanks for your response.  I guess what I'm trying to get at is that RCs (for example) claim that they are the original church and that the Orthodox branched off from them?  How does one know who is right about who branched off from whom?

The best thing I could say in response to this, is to advise an inquirer (in so far he is able or has resources) to look at the self understanding of either party, and compare it with their own history.

While it's true that papal claims of juristiction over the entire Church were one of the key issues which originally created the "great schism", it's important not to confuse the entire history of the post-schism Latin church with the post Vatican Council I period (which we are familiar with.)  In a sense, if "papism" caused the schism to begin with, the first Vatican Council is what finally put the "nails in the coffin."  Prior to this, the Latins were not unvaried in their commitment to "papal-maximalist" ideals, not by a long shot.  Unfortunately there had always been partisans for an ever expanding papacy (largely centered in Rome, for obvious reasons), and they won out in a big way, at the first Vatican Council.  I posted a really good article about this subject in the Orthodox-Catholic section of this forum, and recommend you take a look at it.

My point in bringing this dimension of RC history up, is to show that the Latins as a whole have changed a lot; the very thing which fundamentally separated them from the Orthodox, has grown and evolved with time.  This imho, betrays an important truth - that what the Latins once were, the Orthodox have remained.  If that is not a decisive insight for a seeker trying to discern the "claims" various groups make, I do not know what is.

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Similarly the 3rd and 4th councils are accepted by both the RCs and the Orthodox but the latter is rejected by the Non-Chalcedonians and the former by the "Nestorians".  How does one know that the RCs and EOs are right on these and the others wrong other than majority rule or circular reasoning?  As you pointed, out the majority at one time embraced Arianism.

It was being faced by this glaring fact of history that caused Alexei Khomiakov in the 19th century to give one of the better descriptions of how genuine "ecumenicity" (including that of councils) works.  A council is ultimatly authoratative, because it is true - and that it is true, is evidenced in many ways, though only with finality via the recognition of the universal Church (which is first indicated by it's acceptance by heirarchs of local Churches, but ultimatly is something only shown to be true with time.)

Most here are aware that there have been robber councils before, including those which claimed to be ecumenical (like the Monophysite Robber Council which occured just prior to Chalcedon - part of Chalcedon's work was to correct and answer this false council.)  Yet superficially, one will not find a difference between the two so much in their formation - it is not like the false council did not have the involvement of important ecclessiastics, or even Imperial endorsement; it had all of these appearances of officiality.

However, I'd submit that from a logical, rational point of view even the explanation of Khomiakov (which is really just the "canon of St.Vincent" applied to Councils), while helpful (and better than appeals to some off brand version of papism) doesn't "tie up all of the loose ends" either; since one could easily say (as I'm sure the non-Chalcedonians would say) that none of the Councils could be deemed "ecumenical" then, since there were large groups of Bishops and their congregations of clergy and laity who did not accept them, and in the case of both the non-Chalcedonians and Nestorians, they still have flocks to the present day (thus it's not like one could claim the opposition has died off, thus indicating some tangible sentence from above against their positions.)

The only argument then, would be to simply argue that those who continue in dissent are wrong, and on that basis exclude themselves from the unity of the Church.  While this may at first appear to be incredibly circular reasoning, I think it actually comes closer to the heart of why the Ecumenical Councils are authoratative, and where their real roots are to be found...

God has revealed "something" to mankind.  Thus, whatever perverts this "something" is anathematized by God in eternity, even from before the foundation of the earth.  The Ecumenical Councils then, are manifestations in time (according to the circumstance of errors appearing in history and needing to be visibly refuted and rejected) of the will of God.  While it is true that the acceptance of a given Council by the Church takes time, this acceptance is an act of recognition, of discernment - it is not retroactive validity, as if the Holy Spirit did not speak through the assembling of Bishops beforehand.

IOW, the Ecumenical Councils are (with human participation) acts of God.  Their value is to show that such-and-such is false, to declare this openly and clearly.  This is why even Councils that did not meet under the same auspices as the "big seven", can also be recognized (effectively) as having ecumenical authority (such as the Palamite Councils, the conclusions of which everyone accepts, and St.Gregory Palamas is numbered by everyone now as a Father of the Church - a catholic teacher of universal significance.)

Now that we have some idea of the "rational" behind the Ecumenical Councils, our "job" in regard to those who have dissented from them is to sit down when we are able to and try and reason with them.

If we are sufficiently informed, I'd like to think we accepted things with some conviction; the conviction that what we say is true.  If we lack this conviction, then we have our own soul searching to do.

To us the contemporary dialogue between Orthodox and non-Chalcedonians as an example, I think in large part this is what has happened.  While there are many attempts to help the non-Chalcedonians from not losing face as far as is possible (which is laudable, I think, since we want them to come back home in a spirit of genuine love, not humilitate them and give ourselves a boost), my big problem with the current process is that the Orthodox participants in this (or at least some of them - mainly SCOBA types in America, and the Antiochian Patriarchate in the old world) seem willing to accept something far less than an unambiguous acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon (by the non-Chalcedonians) as a basis for unity.  While one can haggle endlessly about whether or not these folks have always been materially Orthodox in their Christology, I think what is fairly clear (at least in my experience) is that contemporary non-Chalcedonians materially accept the faith of Chalcedon (though I still think their relationship to monothelitism needs to be clarified).  However, if this is really such, then it has to be stated explicitly.  Generosity on the Orthodox part may be willing to allow them to excuse themselves to a degree (with claims they were afraid that Chalcedon was a rehabilitation of Nestorius...though this would have to be ammended so as to say that this estimation was wrong, since it is wrong), but now that we apparently all "agree", then that has to be stated unambiguously.

But even with all of it's problems, I think the Orthodox - Non-Chalcedonian dialogue gives some illustration that discussion and persuassion in the name of truth is possible - that truth is a real "thing", something which can be pointed to, which does not remain forever elusive (we often falsely think it is, just because we cannot always go as far with words as we'd like; no one stopping for a moment to recognize that rule of logic, by which we know that the "self evident" cannot be argued.)  So long as people are struggling to be sincere (which is really an openess to the grace of God, even if those involved do not realize this at first), I think this is always possible.

Quote
I don't mean to ramble on.  I'm just trying to come to some objective way of determining which church maintained the apostolic faith, and not just following my subjective hunch.  Perhaps such knowledge will ultimately remain elusive for me.

I don't think certainty is completely out of our grasp; I just think the kind of certainty people think they should have is impossible.  The most fundamental things (and not simply after the fact extensions and conclusions based on these more basis premises) can only be pointed to.  Thus, once there is some agreement as to what the "facts" are, I don't think their interpretation by honest people is that hard to come by.  Of course, we are speaking in purely human terms here, and we have to throw in the complication that often even the "best" of men have their own biases and agendas (thus they are not always being "honest" with either themselves or others.)  Fortunatly, we are not on this path alone - and grace not only guides, but can overcome these failings of "basically good" men (God does not heal the healthy!)...just so long as that fundamental openess is there.

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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2004, 11:41:04 AM »

Augustine,

Thanks for your insights.  They are much appreciated. Smiley

DT
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2005, 10:28:40 PM »

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That's why I doubt that this error actually occurs.

Do you still doubt, after having read GreekisChristian's posts?  Grin
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« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2005, 12:12:43 AM »

Do you still doubt, after having read GreekisChristian's posts?ÂÂ  Grin

To give GiC his due, I don't think he has stated anywhere that we necessarily have to agreee with the "Oecumenical Throne" as he puts it. What I think he is saying is (and quite rightly) is that the formation of a schism is never justified. All schisms are the work of the devil, and no schism has ever glorified God. Today, however, there are "Orthodox Christians" who believe they are serving God by forming schisms. Where does it all end?

I would say, however that "Communion with Constantinople" is the same as "Communion with Moscow" and "Communion with Jerusalem" and "Communion with Serbia". Georgia and Constantinople vehemently disagree on the issue of WCC membership, yet they are still in Communion- these issues in which they differ are not dogmatic issues and have yet to be sorted through by Concilliar means. Yes, some will cry that "the Branch Theory" is a dogmatic issue, but no Church in communion with Constantinople (except perhaps Antioch) accepts the Branch Theory anyway. "Ecumenism", like "Sergianism" are each more of an erroneous Modus Operandi than a dogmatic heresy.

GiC opposes schism...is that so bad?
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« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2005, 01:14:47 AM »

No no, schism is certainly something to be spoken against. Here is one of the things that I have a problem with, however. GIC has said (if I understood him correctly) that if the Pat. of Constantinople fell into heresy, and every bishop in the world cut off communion with him, that they would all be wrong and that the heretical Pat. of Constantinople would still be right. The reason (again, if I understand him right) is that he thinks that a Synod is needed to condemn the heresy before communion can be broken. But this issue has been debated ad nauseum on the internet, and canonical, saintly, historical, theological, pastoral, and all other manner of evidences have been given to demonstrate that a Synod need not condemn someone before communion is broken. In reality, it usually works the opposite way. Someone breaks communion (or excommunicates someone), forcing the other Local Church's to take notice of the situation and come together in Council to try and resolve the problem(s).
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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2005, 01:50:32 AM »

But notice how GiC also covers his back by saying that if a Synod condemns him, he stands condemned? He'd be a great lawyer! If it wan't for the fact that one can see through him like grandma's underpants!ÂÂ  He's just stirrin' ya'. But there is some truth in the things he says. I like him because he gets me to think more about my own notions. Those who flatter us teach us nothing, those who oppose us at least get us to think reflectively.

I know of other places where opposing voices are silenced, or relegated to a place of mockery- like, say, a section of the forum which labels them "heretical".
See, even I stir the pot sometimes Wink.
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« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2005, 02:01:53 AM »

GiC opposes schism...is that so bad?

But George, I thought you were a Cyprianite and thus not in communion with the Patriarchal Throne, so in effect GiC is callyou schismatic and heretical!
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« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2005, 02:05:30 AM »

[quote author=Νικολάος Διάκονος link=topic=4063.msg88170#msg88170 date=1122184913]
But George, I thought you were a Cyprianite and thus not in communion with the Patriarchal Throne, so in effect GiC is callyou schismatic and heretical!
[/quote]

And I thought you once condemned ROAC on your own forum. Just goes to show you, we can all be wrong sometimes.
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« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2005, 02:07:17 AM »

Sounds like a Rock Band. Grin

Sorry to seem a bit naive but can someone explain what does this term mean?
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« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2005, 02:08:48 AM »

And I thought you once condemned ROAC on your own forum. Just goes to show you, we can all be wrong sometimes.

I do not think I ever did. Are you saying you are no longer with the Cyprianites and with the EP now?
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« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2005, 02:11:17 AM »

Sounds like a Rock Band. Grin

Sorry to seem a bit naive but can someone explain what does this term mean?

 Neo-Papal Patriarchalism means seeing a Patriarch as the Latins see the Pope od Rome, meaning the definition of being in the Church is communion with this certain man.
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2005, 02:15:16 AM »

[quote author=Νικολάος Διάκονος link=topic=4063.msg88173#msg88173 date=1122185328]
I do not think I ever did. [/quote]

http://www.euphrosynoscafe.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=16#16
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« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2005, 02:18:54 AM »


Hmm, that still does not look like me condemning them at all.
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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2005, 02:25:32 AM »


BTW ROAC ended up getting one of those proclaimations afterall anyway!
http://russianorthodox-roac.com/SaintBasilDay.jpg
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« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2005, 02:31:28 AM »

[quote author=Νικολάος Διάκονος link=topic=4063.msg88177#msg88177 date=1122185934]
Hmm, that still does not look like me condemning them at all.
[/quote]

Well it certainly doesn't look like you meant to flatter them!

Look, I'm not questioning your decisions, you're big and ugly enough to decide things for yourself- and like all of us, you have changed over time. The fact that I don't like what you've become should make absolutely no difference to your choices. But I'm not going to pretend I like it. So can you and I please avoid talking to one another on Ecclesiological issues and the issue of forums? (You still owe me a vodka btw).
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« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2005, 02:43:08 AM »

Well....hmmm I have known and chatted with Deacon Nicholas since he was still a catechumen (4 years ago I think that was?) and I don't recall him ever condemning ROAC/FROC/Catacomb Church.  Expressing difference of opinion is not condemning...
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« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2005, 02:46:11 AM »

Look, I'm not questioning your decisions, you're big and ugly enough to decide things for yourself- and like all of us, you have changed over time. The fact that I don't like what you've become should make absolutely no difference to your choices. But I'm not going to pretend I like it. So can you and I please avoid talking to one another on Ecclesiological issues and the issue of forums?

Same goes for you Silouan.
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« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2005, 10:33:21 AM »

George,

But if I was a judge, I'd find that lawyer's arguments unconcinving. Using proof-texts in an argumentative manner is rarely persausive... I should know, I've been trying it for years  Tongue

And all I have to say is that GIC is luckier than I was. When I first was looking into Orthodoxy I purposely pushed people's buttons at a certain forum, just to see if they would show me the love, forgiveness, long-suffering, etc. that I had read about. I was a skeptical, bitter ex-Protestant, and I didn't want to be fooled again. I ended up getting black-balled by the people there within a few days. Now that really helped a bitter ex-Protestant come to believe that Orthodoxy would be a good home for him Roll Eyes I guess I'm saying that I agree with your comment about a forum being open to a diverse posting populace.
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« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2005, 11:08:14 AM »

George,

But if I was a judge, I'd find that lawyer's arguments unconcinving. Using proof-texts in an argumentative manner is rarely persausive... I should know, I've been trying it for yearsÂÂ  Tongue

You're outlining the problems of a Common Law legal system, fortunately the Canonical system of the Orthodox is based on Roman Civil Law, where there is not supposed to be anything to the law other than 'proof texts.' This is sometimes complicated by the fact that some of our Legal documents are over 1800 years old, but it's only a minor inconvenience.

Quote
And all I have to say is that GIC is luckier than I was. When I first was looking into Orthodoxy I purposely pushed people's buttons at a certain forum, just to see if they would show me the love, forgiveness, long-suffering, etc. that I had read about. I was a skeptical, bitter ex-Protestant, and I didn't want to be fooled again. I ended up getting black-balled by the people there within a few days. Now that really helped a bitter ex-Protestant come to believe that Orthodoxy would be a good home for him Roll Eyes I guess I'm saying that I agree with your comment about a forum being open to a diverse posting populace.

I have an agenda, that's quite clear and I havent pretended to hide it, just look at my screenname, 'Greek is Christian,' but my agenda geared towards Hellenism and the Oecumenical Throne. If I wanted to be more political and shrewd I could have come on here pretending to be an American Convert in the OCA, and a radical supporter of an American Patriarchate and English Only Liturgies, and then over the course of a year or so, slowly 'convert' to Hellenism and eventually subject myself to the Oecumenical Throne...that could have been both fun and effective. (Hey, maybe I can still do this, all I need is to go through a Proxy so the Admins see a different IP for my alter-ego...unfortunately that would force me to radically alter my writing style, but I guess can do that, even if I dont particularly care to... j/k Grin ). I actually considered doing that at first, but instead decided against it and decided to simply be the voice of reason on this board Wink; so paradosis, from your perpsective you should be happy that I'm using historical and canonical arguments and arguing from reason, rather than playing everyone's emotions, which is, unfortunately, far more effective, even if it is less forthright. It's too bad I still have this academic concept of the interent, otherwise, you're right, I could be far more persuasive.
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« Reply #35 on: July 24, 2005, 04:08:53 PM »

In other words, your position can be summed up with, I HAVE NO GIRLFRIEND
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« Reply #36 on: July 24, 2005, 04:42:22 PM »

In other words, your position can be summed up with, I HAVE NO GIRLFRIEND

One reason to go into Her Majesty's Secret Service rather than His All-Holiness's.  At least James Bond has Moneypenny to fall back on, GiC is just SoL.  Wink
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« Reply #37 on: July 24, 2005, 06:10:24 PM »

you should be happy that I'm using historical and canonical arguments and arguing from reason, rather than playing everyone's emotions, which is, unfortunately, far more effective, even if it is less forthright. It's too bad I still have this academic concept of the interent, otherwise, you're right, I could be far more persuasive.

Could just be me, but I really don't think that telling GiC that his problem is a lack of a girlfriend was a really good retort to this......
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« Reply #38 on: July 24, 2005, 06:27:53 PM »

Could just be me, but I really don't think that telling GiC that his problem is a lack of a girlfriend was a really good retort to this......

Ah, but it's consistent with the board in general.  Let's be cruel and mean to each other. 

Warning, the old Jennifer is back.  No more Miss Nice Girl.  I was just fooling myself, trying to be a Godly woman, a true handmaid of God.  You want bitter and judgmental I'll give you bitter and judgmental. 

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« Reply #39 on: July 24, 2005, 06:38:53 PM »

Well, actually, I was looking at it from an itellectual/rational vs. emotional/sentimental point of view. GiC uses rational argument and is responded to with an emotional one.

But feel free to vent anyway Wink
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« Reply #40 on: July 24, 2005, 06:40:00 PM »

Could just be me, but I really don't think that telling GiC that his problem is a lack of a girlfriend was a really good retort to this......

You would be assuming that Robert aka big bird aka Jim Beam aka Capn Roberto actually cares about any of the discussions. He pretty much doesn't as his passion in computer coding and that is his niche on the site, and he thinks people take this site too seriously.  I don't always agree with him but you just have to learn that he likes to stir up the pot.

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Ian Lazarus
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« Reply #41 on: July 24, 2005, 06:43:53 PM »

And sit on it sometimes Wink

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #42 on: July 24, 2005, 09:30:47 PM »

GIC,

Nah, I think you'd be more persuasive if you were right, in which case the type of argument you used would be a secondary matter. Smiley The problem with the internet is that everyone thinks they are right in what they post, but hardly anyone thinks about why their posts should convince others. If we used a hammer to sound out internet theology boards, we'd find that they were all hollow and empty, in spite of their impressive exterior. The problem is that we look at everything in terms of parts (Scripture quotes, canons, appeals to emotion or authority), rather than discerning the soul of a thought, which directly effects it's persuasiveness.
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GiC
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« Reply #43 on: July 25, 2005, 12:32:29 AM »

In other words, your position can be summed up with, I HAVE NO GIRLFRIEND

Believe it or not I actually Enjoy this, academic debate has always been amongst my favourite pastimes, and just messing with people's heads is fun too. However, other things I do for fun on my spare time include coding and keeping up with, as well as doing, research in Computer Science (AI, or more specifically Evolutionary Computation and Neural Networks, if any one cares, which I doubt Wink ), my point being that the two of us are probably not quite as different as you would want us to be.ÂÂ  Grin

Ah, but it's consistent with the board in general. Let's be cruel and mean to each other.

That just means we all like each other. Orthodox Christians have a very special way to demonstrate love and affinity to their orthodox brethren, usually with very colourful sentences including words like 'heretic,' 'apostate,' 'blasphemer,' and everyone's favourite 'anathema' (come on, admit it, everyone likes that wordÂÂ  Grin ).

Well, actually, I was looking at it from an itellectual/rational vs. emotional/sentimental point of view. GiC uses rational argument and is responded to with an emotional one.

That was the point, but now that the issue has turned from rational to emotional, why bother everyone with facts?ÂÂ  Cheesy

You would be assuming that Robert aka big bird aka Jim Beam aka Capn Roberto actually cares about any of the discussions. He pretty much doesn't as his passion in computer coding and that is his niche on the site, and he thinks people take this site too seriously.ÂÂ  I don't always agree with him but you just have to learn that he likes to stir up the pot.

And he would be right, people do take this board, and what is said on it, way too Seriously, there's a danger in taking anything involving Both Orthodoxy and the Internet too seriously (Almost all of us are theology geeks or some variation thereof, and a good number of us are probably computer geeks as well...and here we arive at the difficulities of Political Technocracy, it would me a macrocosm of this Board...LOL). However, people do take it so seriously and therein lies the potential for manipulation.

Nah, I think you'd be more persuasive if you were right, in which case the type of argument you used would be a secondary matter. Smiley The problem with the internet is that everyone thinks they are right in what they post, but hardly anyone thinks about why their posts should convince others. If we used a hammer to sound out internet theology boards, we'd find that they were all hollow and empty, in spite of their impressive exterior. The problem is that we look at everything in terms of parts (Scripture quotes, canons, appeals to emotion or authority), rather than discerning the soul of a thought, which directly effects it's persuasiveness.

Of course I'm right, if my opinions were not correct, I would not hold them Wink. As I've said before, I prefer academic debate to proslytizing; I dont really care if someone agrees with me, for if they end up on my side that just means one less person I can debate...agreement is quite boring, and very unfruitful...if everyone always agrees with you it will never force you to think deeper into your posistion, question the fundamentals of your belief, and in the end either adjusting your belief or comming out more convinced of its correctness, but not for mere emotional reasons, rather because you better understand what you believe; if one can't endure criticism for what they believe, then perhaps that belief is not worth having.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2005, 12:33:24 AM by greekischristian » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: July 25, 2005, 01:36:12 AM »

Believe it or not I actually Enjoy this, academic debate has always been amongst my favourite pastimes, and just messing with people's heads is fun too.

So you enjoy pissing people off...and some here think I'm being harsh when I reprimand/rebuke you.   Huh Roll Eyes

Aren't we all called to be dispassionate?
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