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Author Topic: Baptists, Orthodox consider formal dialogue  (Read 2479 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jetavan
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« on: November 14, 2011, 09:03:30 AM »

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. (ABP) – Teams from the Baptist World Alliance and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople held exploratory talks Oct. 30-Nov. 2 that could lead to formal dialogue between Baptist and Orthodox Christians internationally.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, who led the Baptist delegation, described aims of the meeting held on the island of Crete as responding to the Lord's prayer in John 17:21 for his disciples “that they may all be one ... that the world may believe.”
....
Joining Callam in the BWA delegation were Steven Harmon, adjunct professor of Christian theology at Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, N.C., and Paul Fiddes, professor of systematic theology at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Representing Orthodox Christians were Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and professor of Orthodox theology and canon law; George Tsetsis, a former permanent representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches; and Konstantinos Kenanidis, general director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete.

BWA doesn't include all Baptists; the Southern Baptist Convention withdrew from the Baptist World Alliance in 2004, after the BWA admitted the Baptist Cooperative Fellowship, "a group of former Southern Baptists who oppose the convention's conservative bent."
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2011, 11:52:13 AM »

Perhaps we may get a wholesale conversion from the BWA after this is all said and done? Wink
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 10:11:12 PM »

Can only hope for the best, but I doubt anything major will result from it.
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 11:03:24 PM »

Perhaps we may get a wholesale conversion from the BWA after this is all said and done? Wink

Doubt it!  It would be like trying to herd hundreds of cats into the water.
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 11:07:17 PM »

Can anybody produce any results of people actually converting to Orthodoxy through these dialogs? I'm getting really tired of seeing this stuff, because all it does for the non-ORthodox is puts them on equal ontological footing with the Church.
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 11:27:00 PM »

Well, people don't get a degree in one day, and if we want the Baptists to sort of re-absorb the history of the Church that they used to skip over, maybe it would help to give them time. Used to be, they wouldn't care what the Orthodox did at all. This may be a small step forward for their appreciation of other churches. Just a thought.
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 11:36:33 PM »

The only ecumenical dialogue that has a snowball's chance in hell of resulting in anything worth the effort expended in it is the dialogue between the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches. Take that as you will.

The best outcome for every other church communion (and I've been in a few) would be to cease existing. I'm not sure you'd get so many non-Orthodox to show up to that meeting, however.
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 11:39:08 PM »

Can anybody produce any results of people actually converting to Orthodoxy through these dialogs? I'm getting really tired of seeing this stuff, because all it does for the non-ORthodox is puts them on equal ontological footing with the Church.
How so?
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 11:42:32 PM »

Wow, you are just a ray of sunshine. Conversion? What's that? Let's just ignore everybody and maybe they'll go away. Ignore what Jesus said about preaching to every creature.

You make Orthodoxy sound like the Mandaeans, where you have to be born into them.

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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 11:45:54 PM »

Wow, you are just a ray of sunshine. Conversion? What's that? Let's just ignore everybody and maybe they'll go away. Ignore what Jesus said about preaching to every creature.

You make Orthodoxy sound like the Mandaeans, where you have to be born into them.


To whom are you talking?
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 11:48:16 PM »

Dzheremi.
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 11:57:56 PM »

That's a pretty funny charge, since I myself was not born Orthodox (and I'm still not Orthodox even now). So I guess I'm against myself?  Huh

Just stating a plain fact, my friend. Every other church that exists now has deviated from the Orthodox faith and left it by their deviations. If we're serious about wanting other people to become Orthodox, we should want their churches to return to Orthodoxy and hence stop being Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, whatever. So, yes: The best possible outcome for the other churches is that they stop existing.
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2011, 12:03:24 AM »

The only ecumenical dialogue that has a snowball's chance in hell of resulting in anything worth the effort expended in it is the dialogue between the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches. Take that as you will.

The best outcome for every other church communion (and I've been in a few) would be to cease existing. I'm not sure you'd get so many non-Orthodox to show up to that meeting, however.

Honestly, my inner pessimist is inclined to agree. If we can't even forge some sort of meaningful union between the OO and the EO (who of all groups of Christianity, despite being separated for the longest seem to be the closest together in professing the same faith), what chance is there for any sort of union between the Catholics and the OO or the Catholics and the EO, much less mainline protestant groups and baptists?
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2011, 12:04:36 AM »

Okay, since I haven't "made it to the finish line" yet, I'll stop existing.
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2011, 12:07:12 AM »

Okay, since I haven't "made it to the finish line" yet, I'll stop existing.

I think by 'cease existing' Dzheremi meant that the best outcome was for the non-Orthodox to convert to Orthodoxy, rather than some sort of untenable union, which will bear no good fruit.
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« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2011, 12:11:23 AM »

Indeed I did, Cavaradossi. I thought I was pretty clear in my subsequent explanation of that post, but I guess not clear enough. My apologies, Biro. Existing is basically all I do, so I am less enthusiastic about the kind of non-existence you understood from my post.
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2011, 01:11:36 AM »

I think this dialogue will help to make some Protestants more aware of Orthodoxy, which is a good thing IMO.
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2011, 01:20:16 AM »

A "southern baptist rite" will be formally added to the other rites of Orthodoxy. It will also rally the scattered Southern Baptist "riters" now chiefly found among the Antiochians.
So let's see, any ideas, how a southern baptist rite orthodox liturgy will look like?
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« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2011, 01:28:07 AM »

A "southern baptist rite" will be formally added to the other rites of Orthodoxy. It will also rally the scattered Southern Baptist "riters" now chiefly found among the Antiochians.
So let's see, any ideas, how a southern baptist rite orthodox liturgy will look like?

something like this maybe? http://www.fathershouse.net/watch
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« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2011, 01:19:17 PM »

Indeed I did, Cavaradossi. I thought I was pretty clear in my subsequent explanation of that post, but I guess not clear enough. My apologies, Biro. Existing is basically all I do, so I am less enthusiastic about the kind of non-existence you understood from my post.

Thanks. I am sorry for the confusion.  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2011, 07:57:12 PM »

A "southern baptist rite" will be formally added to the other rites of Orthodoxy. It will also rally the scattered Southern Baptist "riters" now chiefly found among the Antiochians.
So let's see, any ideas, how a southern baptist rite orthodox liturgy will look like?

something like this maybe? http://www.fathershouse.net/watch
Eh, former Southern Baptists love going Byzantine.
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« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2011, 05:35:18 PM »

In my Pentecostal phase I used to hope for the day when all Christians would embrace Pentecostal belief and practice; later, as my Baptist principles settled into place, I thought how good it would be if all the Lord's children and churches became Baptist. Now... well, I stay Baptist because I genuinely believe it is the nearest to the New Testament pattern, despite all the faults and shortcomings of present-day Baptist belief, practice and ethos. I stay, not because it is perfect, but because, in its best, healthiest manifestations, I believe it most nearly approaches the religion of the NT churches. I do not feel that all other people called Christian are unsaved or are barred from the Lord's Kingdom because of their denominational affliliation and dogma, and I would love to see greater mutual respect shown among those who truly are the Lord's children through faith in Him.

What is the point of Baptist-Orthodox dialogue? From our side, I am happy to believe that we have much we can learn from other strands of Christianity, and that does not exclude Orthodoxy. The problem lies more with the Orthodox view of itself as the only true church, which does not have anythying to learn from others called Christian. From you I can learn: I suspect many do not feel you can learn from me or my fellow Baptists.
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« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2011, 05:53:32 PM »

From you I can learn: I suspect many do not feel you can learn from me or my fellow Baptists.
Baptists make good fried chicken -- in the U.S., at least. Don't know about you Welsh. Wink
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« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2011, 05:58:21 PM »

The problem lies more with the Orthodox view of itself as the only true church, which does not have anythying to learn from others called Christian. From you I can learn: I suspect many do not feel you can learn from me or my fellow Baptists.

With all due respect, and there is much heartfelt respect, some of our most "famous" members would disagree that the OC has nothing to learn from Baptists or Evangelicals:

Quote from: Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
Of course, as an Orthodox I allow for the fact that there are many variations within Evangelicalism—notably, the difference between Arminians and Calvinists. I am firmly an Arminian. Also, the difference between Charismatics and non-Charismatics. I would put myself in the Charismatic class. Orthodoxy is, of course, much more uniform in doctrine and forms of worship than Evangelicalism. But, here too, we have differences among ourselves, especially in our attitude to non-Orthodox Christians and in our approach to Christian unity and the Ecumenical Movement. Please take note that in the title of my address, I do not say, “What have Evangelicals to learn from the Orthodox?” But I say, “What have we to learn from one another?” Dialogue, if truly such, is always mutual—never just one-sided.

http://ancientfaith.com/specials/lectures_by_metropolitan_kallistos_ware/what_can_evangelicals_and_orthodox_learn_from_one_another

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« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2011, 06:00:25 PM »

Wow, you are just a ray of sunshine. Conversion? What's that? Let's just ignore everybody and maybe they'll go away. Ignore what Jesus said about preaching to every creature.

You make Orthodoxy sound like the Mandaeans, where you have to be born into them.

Please. Ecumenical dialogues are not missionary work.
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« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2011, 06:09:00 PM »

That's a pretty funny charge, since I myself was not born Orthodox (and I'm still not Orthodox even now). So I guess I'm against myself?  Huh

Just stating a plain fact, my friend. Every other church that exists now has deviated from the Orthodox faith and left it by their deviations. If we're serious about wanting other people to become Orthodox, we should want their churches to return to Orthodoxy and hence stop being Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, whatever. So, yes: The best possible outcome for the other churches is that they stop existing.

Agreed, although I do think that certain elements of these groups can be "baptized" to make the transition easier and so that their historical religious heritage isn't completely destroyed. Like in the WRO.
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« Reply #26 on: November 17, 2011, 08:39:43 PM »

What is the point of Baptist-Orthodox dialogue? From our side, I am happy to believe that we have much we can learn from other strands of Christianity, and that does not exclude Orthodoxy. The problem lies more with the Orthodox view of itself as the only true church, which does not have anythying to learn from others called Christian. From you I can learn: I suspect many do not feel you can learn from me or my fellow Baptists.

I have never known an Orthodox Christian to say, categorically, that there is nothing that we can learn from non-Orthodox Christians. Rather the distinction that is most often drawn is a difference between learning from and absorbing: I have heard several talk about (re-)learning a sort of "missionary imperative" from the non-Orthodox, but it always paired with a caution that we do not get caught up along the way in the cultural forms and doctrinal innovations of the non-Orthodox. It is the same "take the good, leave the bad" idea that dates back to St. Basil the Great's "Address to young men on the right use of Greek literature" (4th century), which deals with the proper use of pagan/non-Christian literature.

Rather, the greater danger in my eyes is a sort of reduction of great spiritual truths to "neat" things that then may be used to augment or buttress the worship of the unorthodox. I would rather be openly disrespected by a Baptist, Presbyterian, Christadelphian, whatever, than to have them come away feeling that their Christianity has been somehow blessed by the Orthodox, or that they can now go back to their congregation with a bunch of nifty, exotic, or otherwise useful objects or ideas to graft onto their worship, whether to "spice things up" or to try something new or whatever. Orthodoxy is neither a vacation from happy, clappy praise tunes and testimonials, nor a yardstick by which the non-Orthodox can measure themselves as being closer/better than their neighbor. I've seen both happen when non-Orthodox approached Orthodoxy without intent to actually consider its spirituality and eccelsiology in a serious manner.

So while I really do enjoy your post, David, I am weary of this "let's all get together and learn" idea. I'm afraid that what non-Orthodox might learn from Orthodoxy might make them in one way or another less likely to take it seriously (and hence convert), as well as being nervous that perhaps what the Orthodox might learn from the non-Orthodox might make some of them less likely to take Orthodoxy seriously, too. At least with the EO/OO dialogues, there is no doubt that both sides are serious about Orthodoxy, and have well-formed, time-tested notions of what can and cannot be accepted within those notions.
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« Reply #27 on: November 17, 2011, 08:56:07 PM »

What is the point of Baptist-Orthodox dialogue? From our side, I am happy to believe that we have much we can learn from other strands of Christianity, and that does not exclude Orthodoxy. The problem lies more with the Orthodox view of itself as the only true church, which does not have anythying to learn from others called Christian. From you I can learn: I suspect many do not feel you can learn from me or my fellow Baptists.
This is of course going to sound hyperdox, but I really don't see what Orthodox Christians have to learn from Baptists or Protestants for that matter. Christian piety? We have saints, monks and even clergymen to look towards.

If Orthodox Christians proclaim the Orthodox Church as the only true Church, then those that are outside of it really have nothing to teach it.

Pastor David I do have a question to ask of you. When the Nicene Creed says "We Believe in One. Holy. Catholic, and Apostolic Church" what do you think that means?
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« Reply #28 on: November 17, 2011, 09:30:18 PM »

A "southern baptist rite" will be formally added to the other rites of Orthodoxy. It will also rally the scattered Southern Baptist "riters" now chiefly found among the Antiochians.
So let's see, any ideas, how a southern baptist rite orthodox liturgy will look like?
same as a nominal orthodox one, just with conviction.
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« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2011, 10:29:13 PM »

Dialogues are a waste of time with this lot.  As I have repeated many times (and will do so again), our imperative is not the union of the churches but the union of the heterodox to the Church, i.e. the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #30 on: November 18, 2011, 12:55:35 AM »

Dialogues are a waste of time with this lot.  As I have repeated many times (and will do so again), our imperative is not the union of the churches but the union of the heterodox to the Church, i.e. the Orthodox Church.
Why do we automatically assume that dialogue equals the pursuit of unholy union?
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« Reply #31 on: November 18, 2011, 03:47:51 AM »

Some people are just afraid that way.
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« Reply #32 on: November 18, 2011, 04:35:32 AM »

Well, people don't get a degree in one day, and if we want the Baptists to sort of re-absorb the history of the Church that they used to skip over, maybe it would help to give them time. Used to be, they wouldn't care what the Orthodox did at all. This may be a small step forward for their appreciation of other churches. Just a thought.

As a former baptist I would say that they are probably trying to help out the situation of their baptist groups in Orthodox lands.
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« Reply #33 on: November 18, 2011, 07:58:09 AM »

Dialogues are a waste of time with this lot.

Not really. They might clear the misconceptions and hence hinder the violence that has occurred between various Christians during past centuries.
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« Reply #34 on: November 18, 2011, 09:25:29 AM »

Wow, you are just a ray of sunshine. Conversion? What's that? Let's just ignore everybody and maybe they'll go away. Ignore what Jesus said about preaching to every creature.

You make Orthodoxy sound like the Mandaeans, where you have to be born into them.

Please. Ecumenical dialogues are not missionary work.
$10 says Westboro folks show up protesting.

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« Reply #35 on: November 18, 2011, 05:15:09 PM »

Don't know about you Welsh.

Sais ydw i - I'm English; I just live in Wales. But the Lord blessed me with a wife of excellent skill in the kitchen.  Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: November 18, 2011, 05:33:56 PM »

I am weary of this "let's all get together and learn" idea. I'm afraid that what non-Orthodox might learn from Orthodoxy might make them in one way or another less likely to take it seriously

Well, let me offer an example. I was reading part of a sermon by the Benedictine abbot Ælfric this morning. I find his writings vibrant and full of life and of Christ. But this morning's passage happened to be on baptism, and of course, he meant mostly the baptism of infants (and specifically said so), and he wrote at length of their being reborn through the sacrament. Now here is something I simply cannot understand, cannot "get my head round". I just can't grasp what you folk, Catholic and Orthodox, mean when you talk about baptismal regeneration, but also talk about the need to repent and believe (which obviously must come later in life). It makes no sense to me how you can hold both simultaneously: it is, as it were, oxymoronic. I do not expect that dialogue on the topic would bring many of us Baptists to adopt infant baptism, nor many of you to discard infants' and adopt only believers' baptism, but if I am to respect you as fellow Christians, surely it must help if you can at least make me understand your thinking.

To us, your concept of baptism seems like priestly magic, and of course we reject it as sub-Christian; to you, our insistence on faith preceding baptism seems... well, you know better than I, but you certainly think we are mistaken. If I am not to regard you as promoting some sort of hieratic, pre-Christian magic, and you are not to regard us as depriving millions of early-dead children of salvation - and thereby each of us viewing the other as not really Christian - ought we not at least to strive for honest understanding of each other's position?

I am sure that many Baptists regard Orthodox as more or less wiflully substituting real Christianity with some form of priestcraft imported from paganism; I am also sure some of you regard us Baptists as wifully stripping away truth and blessing from millions of souls and substituting them with our own unwarranted innovations. Neither is a true perception. I do not expect to convert you, nor you me, but let us at least strive for respectful understanding of each other's integrity and honest belief.

This surely is something which dialogue might achieve, if pursued in a spirit of courtesy and sincerity.

I don't want to digress on to a discussion of the nature of baptism - there are threads for that. I only give this topic as one among many in which improved mutual understanding would be a wholesome step forward.
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« Reply #37 on: November 18, 2011, 05:44:36 PM »

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It makes no sense to me how you can hold both simultaneously: it is, as it were, oxymoronic.

There is much in Orthodoxy (and, to an extent, in other Christian traditions) that is seemingly oxymoronic. The prime one is the fact that God became Man, and simultaneously remained both fully God and fully Man.
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« Reply #38 on: November 18, 2011, 05:44:55 PM »

When the Nicene Creed says "We Believe in One. Holy. Catholic, and Apostolic Church" what do you think that means?

There are, of course, whole books written on the doctrine of the church. I suspect you are not asking about "holy", but rather one, catholic, and apostolic.

By "one", whatever the original authors meant, I would use it to mean that all the Lord's people, in every age and place, are individually united with Christ by the Holy Spirit, and belong together as God's one family, some now in Paradise awaiting the resurrection, some still here on earth.

By "catholic" I mean universal - it extends to all the world, and to every age till the Lord's return in glory. (Maranatha! say I)

By "apostolic", I would mean established by the apostles and founded on them and their teaching. Clearly we do not see this in terms of unbroken, organisational, historical continuity (or we would become Orthodox! - indeed, is not this the route by which some of us do become Orthodox?). No, rather we hold the apostolic faith and are a continuation of the one universal church initiated by them.

It is the indwellling of the Holy Spirit in believers, and his presence in the churches, that unites them to this only Church.
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« Reply #39 on: November 18, 2011, 05:52:02 PM »

There is much in ... Christian traditions that is seemingly oxymoronic.

Yes, I'll accept that. But I still genuinely do not mentally understand how you can simultaneously hold that a baby is regenerated in baptism, and that a person must experience repentance from sin and faith in Christ to be a Christian and have everlasting life.

In fact one of the traits of certain strands of Protestantism that I personally find displeasing is the tendency to want every question answered, every dogma logically fitted with every other dogma, in a doctrinal system with no contradictions. It seems to reduce divine truth to the human level and leave no room for mystery and thus less for humble but sometimes mystified adoration. It is, I think, called scholasticism.
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« Reply #40 on: November 18, 2011, 06:01:48 PM »

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Yes, I'll accept that. But I still genuinely do not mentally understand how you can simultaneously hold that a baby is regenerated in baptism, and that a person must experience repentance from sin and faith in Christ to be a Christian and have everlasting life.

If you can accept that God can become Man, without fully understanding how this can be, how can it be so difficult to accept infant baptism? Methinks you might be cherry-picking.
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« Reply #41 on: November 18, 2011, 06:03:04 PM »

I am weary of this "let's all get together and learn" idea. I'm afraid that what non-Orthodox might learn from Orthodoxy might make them in one way or another less likely to take it seriously

Well, let me offer an example. I was reading part of a sermon by the Benedictine abbot Ælfric this morning. I find his writings vibrant and full of life and of Christ. But this morning's passage happened to be on baptism, and of course, he meant mostly the baptism of infants (and specifically said so), and he wrote at length of their being reborn through the sacrament. Now here is something I simply cannot understand, cannot "get my head round". I just can't grasp what you folk, Catholic and Orthodox, mean when you talk about baptismal regeneration, but also talk about the need to repent and believe (which obviously must come later in life). It makes no sense to me how you can hold both simultaneously: it is, as it were, oxymoronic. I do not expect that dialogue on the topic would bring many of us Baptists to adopt infant baptism, nor many of you to discard infants' and adopt only believers' baptism, but if I am to respect you as fellow Christians, surely it must help if you can at least make me understand your thinking.

To us, your concept of baptism seems like priestly magic, and of course we reject it as sub-Christian; to you, our insistence on faith preceding baptism seems... well, you know better than I, but you certainly think we are mistaken. If I am not to regard you as promoting some sort of hieratic, pre-Christian magic, and you are not to regard us as depriving millions of early-dead children of salvation - and thereby each of us viewing the other as not really Christian - ought we not at least to strive for honest understanding of each other's position?

I am sure that many Baptists regard Orthodox as more or less wiflully substituting real Christianity with some form of priestcraft imported from paganism; I am also sure some of you regard us Baptists as wifully stripping away truth and blessing from millions of souls and substituting them with our own unwarranted innovations. Neither is a true perception. I do not expect to convert you, nor you me, but let us at least strive for respectful understanding of each other's integrity and honest belief.

This surely is something which dialogue might achieve, if pursued in a spirit of courtesy and sincerity.

I don't want to digress on to a discussion of the nature of baptism - there are threads for that. I only give this topic as one among many in which improved mutual understanding would be a wholesome step forward.

Hello my friend! I miss trading posts with you! Good to see you again! Smiley

You know it's funny, because as I lie in bed this morning I was thinking about this very thing.

I think in the end, both our faith traditions believe in the same thing but express it differently. Now before I get burned at the stake for saying so, let me explain:

When I used to attend the Baptist Church with my mother, I knew quite a few people who said they were "saved" when they were three years old. Some members of my family claim the same. They say, that at 3 years old, they asked Christ to forgive them of their sins, and asked God into their heart and to lead them in their life. Now, as endearing as this sounds, I have a few problems with it.

I don't doubt for a second that these individuals pray the prayer that they claim they prayed. My problem is that how many toddlers do you know understand the theological significance of what I just described? How many toddlers even know what sin is, let alone that they should repent for it? How can a child so young possibly know what it means to follow the will of God? I mean, how many toddlers really know what it means for Christ to have been resurrected on the third day?

Now, should the pastor or parent who helped them say such prayer be chastised for wanting the child to accept Christ into their life at such an early age? Of course not! After all, does not the proverb say, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

It is for the same reason that the pastor encourages such a young child to accept Christ as his Savior at 3, that we baptize infants. The expectation is that the child will be raised in the faith, and hopefully choose to follow Christ for all of their days. The problem with the Proverb I quoted is that it does not always hold true. (We see this in the parable of the sower, "And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture." Luke 8:6) I am sure both of us can think of individuals who were raised in a faith tradition (could be Baptist, Orthodox, take your pick), and for whatever reason, walked away from the faith as an adult.

Does that make the intention of the parents who had their child baptized as an infant any less sincere? Does it make the pastor wrong for wanting the child to have been reared in the faith? No. It means that ultimately, the child, as it grew, for whatever reason, chose to abandon that which had been given to them.

In both our faith traditions, we believe that in baptism we die to self, and are re-born in Christ. In the Orthodox faith, we baptize infants so they may be anointed with the Holy Spirit through chrismation, and receive the body and blood of Christ through communion. We start it as early as possible so that the child will not only begin to reap the blessings of these other sacraments as soon as possible, but will hopefully continue in a life long relationship with Christ and His Church. At some point, the child must decide for himself whether to continue "in the way he should go" or do as the Prodigal did.

Also, this is not just a "once in a lifetime" decision, but a daily choice. Every time we sin, we are hurting Christ. It is whether we repent of that sin and return to Christ that ultimately defines us.

This, I feel, is where our faiths are greatly different.

With the Baptists, once you have repented and been baptized, you are forgiven forever, and all is well. In Orthodoxy, it is a constant and daily struggle. This is why we have confession. To ask God for His forgiveness of the sins we commit, whether they be intentionally or unintentionally.

I'm not sure if this addresses all your points, but I hope it helps.
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« Reply #42 on: November 19, 2011, 08:15:22 AM »

I think in the end, both our faith traditions believe in the same thing but express it differently.

I don't think they do. However, I do think that neither of us has really got it quite right, and that in similar but opposite ways. The NT was in the middle of us. You baptise too early, before faith; we (usually) baptise after too long a delay. In the NT the two occurred as nearly as possible simultaneously: a person believed and was baptised. The two events, one inner one outer, were linked more closely in terms of time. We have both in some degree separated them, augmenting the time gap, but in opposite directions.

Quote
I knew quite a few people who said they were "saved" when they were three years old.

Do you mean that, aged 3, they said they were saved? Or do you mean that in later life, as they looked back to their 3-year-old selves, they saw a child already in the kingdom?

Quote
how many toddlers ... understand the theological significance ... even know what sin is, let alone that they should repent...  know what it means to follow the will of God?

You are right: almost certainly they don't, though doubtless Piaget would have something to say on the theme. But I think we agree here. But does salvation depend on such understanding? Cannot a child's prayer be sincere at the level he is at, link him truly with Christ, and deepen as he grows in years?

Quote
Now, should the pastor or parent who helped them say such prayer be chastised for wanting the child to accept Christ into their life at such an early age? Of course not!

Quite so!

Quote
It is for the same reason that the pastor encourages such a young child to accept Christ as his Savior at 3, that we baptize infants.

But even at 3, a person has some language and concepts; an infant does not, and cannot even in the most immature way reach out to the Lord.

Quote
the child, as it grew, for whatever reason, chose to abandon that which had been given to them. ... With the Baptists, once you have repented and been baptized, you are forgiven forever, and all is well

What you are saying is that the infant is saved, then later loses his salvation, then later can regain it. An odd concept. How many times can he drop out of the Kingdom and regain entry?

But in re the second part of your comment, I think you need to insert the word American before Baptist. Even the strictest Calvinist Baptists in Britain, who believe ardently in eternal security (the P of TULIP, which someone's earlier post says grow abundantly in Baptist gardens), expect to see a changed life: the person who has told others he has repented and believed will show signs of progress in Christian character if he really has. We are back with OSAS in its transatlantic form - but that is another topic altogether, and one that is so alien here that I am probably not qualified to debate it.
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« Reply #43 on: November 19, 2011, 09:23:26 AM »

Do you mean that, aged 3, they said they were saved? Or do you mean that in later life, as they looked back to their 3-year-old selves, they saw a child already in the kingdom?  

According to their statements, they were saved. Now, how one determines one is saved is another point of contention between our faiths. We believe that you do not know until you hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matt 25:21) after you have passed. You believe it is once you have accepted Christ into your heart.

You are right: almost certainly they don't, though doubtless Piaget would have something to say on the theme. But I think we agree here. But does salvation depend on such understanding? Cannot a child's prayer be sincere at the level he is at, link him truly with Christ, and deepen as he grows in years?

Of course it can! I do not doubt the sincerity of the prayer. After all, did not our Lord say, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 19:14) My point is at what age are we to know when the prayers become sincere and when they are not? Just because we may not understand the utterances and cries of an infant does not mean God can't understand their hearts. We should not let our human limitations of anatomy and psychology confine the divine abilities for one to be saved. Smiley

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the child, as it grew, for whatever reason, chose to abandon that which had been given to them. ... With the Baptists, once you have repented and been baptized, you are forgiven forever, and all is well

What you are saying is that the infant is saved, then later loses his salvation, then later can regain it. An odd concept. How many times can he drop out of the Kingdom and regain entry?


This is where we disagree. For the Orthodox, salvation is a process. We do not believe that once you have accepted Christ into your life that you have a golden ticket into heaven. This is a marathon race; our salvation is something we constantly press towards. During the race, you may slip and fall, but then regain your footing. You keep striving towards the finish line, even though you may have gone off into some trail in the woods at some point in your life. (Hey, who knows, maybe you have ADHD and can be easily destracted by such things! Wink )

St. Paul writes about this struggle in his letter to the Philippians, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)

Even the Lord himself warned us to be vigilent in our faith as we press towards our salvation in the parable of the ten virgins:

Quote
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Matthew 25:1-13

This parable, by the way, is very familiar to the Orthodox, as we review it at length during Holy Week. Wink

Speaking of Holy Week and Lent, we also learn during that time that should we stray away from the faith that had been given to us as a child, we can return, and shall be welcome back with open arms.

Quote
...But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry." Luke 15: 17-24

How many times may we stray that the Lord may forgive us? I believe Christ addresses this in the parable of the unforgiving servant:

Quote
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:21-35

As we forgive, so shall we be forgiven.

Personally, I think it is much more reasonable to think that you will be judged on your faith and your actions throughout your life as a whole, then just one prayer said as a small child. You say that a sign of true faith is a life changed by faith. I will not disagree that a person of faith must exemplify his faith through works. St. James himself writes about this in his Gospel, James 2:14-26.

However, I do believe that as people age they can go through periods of great faith and periods of little faith. They may go through entire periods of complete dis-belief in God. (Heaven forbid!) However, if they repent and come back to the faith they knew as a small child, I believe, and the Orthodox Church teaches, God will honor their faith.

I believe that by baptizing the child as an infant, you are allowing the child to have a solid bedrock of faith and the ability to experience the mysteries of the sacraments from a very early age. A friend of mine was born to parents whose mother was Orthodox and father was Roman Catholic. When my friend was born, he was initially baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church. Now, in the Catholic Church, you cannot receive communion until you are about 7 years old, and are old enough to go to confession. (I am not inluding this as a point of contention, but to make as part of the story.) At the age of 2, my friend had to have his tonsils taken out. His mother, out of concern for the health of both his physical being and his immortal soul insisted he be chrismated in the Orthodox Church and be raised Orthodox, so that he could receive the life-giving sacrament of communion prior to his surgery. (In the Orthodox Church, once one has been baptized and chrismated in the Church, one can receive communion, regardless of age.)

So you see, by having him baptized and chrismated at such a young age, he not only received the gift of having the Holy Spirit come down and dwell in him, but he also was able to receive the life-giving, precious body and blood of Our Lord.

This, to me, is the best and most important reason to allow for the baptism of infants. It opens the door to receive the other life-giving sacraments of the Church. Through the sacraments, we work towards achieving salvation.
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« Reply #44 on: November 19, 2011, 12:19:17 PM »

Yes, I'll accept that. But I still genuinely do not mentally understand how you can simultaneously hold that a baby is regenerated in baptism, and that a person must experience repentance from sin and faith in Christ to be a Christian and have everlasting life.

Well, perhaps the Calvinist concept of Covenant Theology might help somewhat? Not that circumcision necessarily had regenerative properties, but rather that baptism is the initiation into the New Covenant as well as rebirth. As a person grows as a Christian into an adult, they learn faith in a different sort of way. But at the same time, we cannot forget Christ's exhortation to have the faith of a child, not the reason of a man. It's a great mystery how it all works together, but as I'm sure you know, we're okay with mystery.
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