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Poll
Question: Is Orthodoxy true Church?
Is EO infallible? - 1 (50%)
Is Orthodoxy truly pan-Orthodox? - 1 (50%)
Total Voters: 2

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Jack2012
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« on: April 16, 2012, 09:15:36 PM »

          
Hello All:
   I’ve been an inquirer into Orthodoxy and even a self-educated Catechumen (church I was attending had no formal program- just an ask-if- you- have-questions approach) for more than a year now and I’m still bothered by several issues concerning infallibility and ethnicity.
   On paper, Eastern Orthodoxy looks more convincing to me than evangelical Protestantism (closer to Apostolic authority) and Catholicism (more faithful to and reliant on scripture, less innovative). However, there are problems with the EO question of infallibility. The 7 Ecumenical Councils are infallible because the whole church, including the laity (the faithful) agreed on the dogmas promulgated; but what about the Churches of the East, who only only accept the first two councils and comprised a fairly large chunk of Christendom then to the east and the Oriental Orthodox who only accept the first three councils and composed a large chunk of Africa then? Hardly a quorum there.
   I also struggle with the ethnic core of the Orthodox churches. Where’s pan-Orthodoxy when the emphasis is on nationality: the Greeks, the Russians, the Arabs, the Serbs all have groups and classes for language, music and dance, as well as frequent festivals that are nationally oriented. Even the OCA, the “American Church” has very distinctive Russian ambiance and customs.  I attended an Antiochian church, which has many converts, and the service (which they called a mass) was half in Arabic. As a non-ethnic American, I hardly fit in and wonder how these churches, who say they welcome converts, can possibly be the future of Christianity in its fullness.
   I understand that no church is going to be error-free- after all, they are all run by humans and it has been a long time since the Age of Apostles- but where can a present day Christian (Bible-believer) find the fullness of faith?
   Thank you.
 Jack
   
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 10:05:50 PM »


Welcome to the forum Jack2012!

It seems to me that your biggest issue is with the "ethnic" element you are encountering within Orthodoxy in the United States.

This particular situation only exists in the U.S.  In other words in Romania, everyone is Romanian and has no issues speaking Romanian, and having Romanian festivals.  Same in Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, etc.

America is a melting pot of peoples. 

On one hand you find this to be a limitation, and almost a hindrance to your growth within Orthodoxy.

On the other hand, you should be grateful for these "ethnic" parishes....for it is exactly these "foreign" people who brought Orthodoxy to your doorstep.  Had they not, you would only have been reading about it in books....not seeing it and living it.

Certainly, each parish will reflect the homeland of the people who came here, preserved their faith, and built their church. 

Why not approach it as a "plus".  I think it's rather cool learning everyone's customs and traditions.

Remember, the Faith is the same....the languages might be different, the people might look different, the food might taste different....but, the Faith is NOT different.

Unless you are an Native American (Indian), even your roots come from foreign lands.  Embrace the differences, for these are all God's people...many flavors of His design.

Once again, welcome to the forum from a Ukrainian American.  Smiley

PS.  We have many churches in the UOC that only serve in English for our non-Ukrainian faithful.
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 10:25:03 PM »

And I might add that it's not just the Orthodox who sometimes minister to primarily ethnic communities.





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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2012, 04:28:31 PM »

This topic has been moved to Religous topics board from the Convert Issues Board. I would have kept it  in Convert Issues Board but there is a poll on this topic that is inappropriate for the Convert Issues Forum.

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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2012, 04:55:48 PM »

I think it would be good to draw a distinction between nationalism and celebrating heritage.  I, like Liza, appreciate and celebrate the heritage of the Orthodox churches and appreciate all that the founders of these churches did.  Many churches were built by the hands of the first parishioners.  That being said, there certainly is nationalism and it can be cartoon-ish.  But it is not limited to Orthodox Churches.  It is just more noticeable when people are wrapping themselves in a flag other than the American flag.
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2012, 05:03:33 PM »

Jack--Welcome to the forum; Christ is risen!

The ethnicity of an Orthodox church may be an issue, but not necessarily so. For one thing, you may have an "ethnic" parish that is a very welcoming and praying one, where the presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable. You may find an "ethnic" parish that conducts its services overwhelmingly in English. All kinds of permutations abound, shaped by personalities and circumstances--just like in any other church. May I ask some questions so that we can give you more informed input?

Where in the world are you located? Which church jurisdiction is the church that you are attending? How much self-study have you done?
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2012, 05:10:23 PM »

Looking to the present, we can see that the OO agrees with the spirit of the councils, even though they don't officially endorse all of them. If there is a distinction that can still be drawn today it is very minor. I think this is a powerful witness which speaks to the legitamacy and universality of the councils as being reflective of genuine orthodox and catholic belief during the first millenium of Christianity.
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2012, 10:21:10 PM »

Infallibility is a hard word in the poll.   I usually hate absolutes.

We cannot deny that there are many schisms within the EO church (and the people who schism still claim to be EO and the other EO still claim to be EO)  There are also lots of trivial issues (some would not call them trivial too) such as beards/no beards, old calendar vs. new calendar, etc.   But that doesn't make it infallible or fallible.  It just makes it pretty "large" and diverse, where you have a span of liberal & conservative EO Christians mixed in with different cultures etc.   The OO & EO have the chalcedonian "thing"...   There are branches (even large branches) not in communion with one another...   It's actually kind of sad. 

The EO church is very diverse, lots of culture.  Here in America you'd probably find the OCA churches mostly more "American", but even those can be cultural as well. 
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2012, 10:40:57 PM »

Jack I'm not sure you will get the answers that you are looking for on a forum. I'm like you still searching for answers and feel same way you do at times. The only thing I can tell you is not all Churches are the same. On here at times people will talk bad about different ethnic churches on how they where rude or what not. I had people tell me to stay away from the greeks to the rocor while I went to a Greek church and they were all nice and friendly. I would suggest you put your two feet to the pavement and find a church you feel welcomed in and if you only have one Orthodox church in your area and you feel it's the right church guess what looks like the people there will have to just  get use to you going there. Thats how I look at it.
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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 02:07:11 AM »

I also struggle with the ethnic core of the Orthodox churches. Where’s pan-Orthodoxy when the emphasis is on nationality: the Greeks, the Russians, the Arabs, the Serbs all have groups and classes for language, music and dance, as well as frequent festivals that are nationally oriented. Even the OCA, the “American Church” has very distinctive Russian ambiance and customs.  I attended an Antiochian church, which has many converts, and the service (which they called a mass) was half in Arabic. As a non-ethnic American, I hardly fit in and wonder how these churches, who say they welcome converts, can possibly be the future of Christianity in its fullness.
   I understand that no church is going to be error-free- after all, they are all run by humans and it has been a long time since the Age of Apostles- but where can a present day Christian (Bible-believer) find the fullness of faith?
   Thank you.
 Jack
   
"We are deeply convicted that our Lord did not die on the cross and raise from the dead to establish his church for Slavs, Greeks, and Arabs, but for all mankind. In him East and West, North and South, do not exist. 'Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit." -Metropolitan Philip

Keep in mind that ecclesiastical racism or ethno-phyletism has been pronounced a heresy in Orthodoxy at a pan-Orthodox Council:

Quote from: OrthodoxWiki Phyletism
The term phyletism, from phili/φυλή: race or tribe, was coined at the Holy and Great pan-Orthodox Synod that met in Constantinople in 1872. The meeting was prompted by the creation of a separate bishopric by the Bulgarian community of Constantinople for parishes only open to Bulgarians. It was the first time in Church history that a separate diocese was established based on ethnic identity rather than principles of Orthodoxy and territory. Phyletism, however, should not be confused with patriotism (which was known at that time as φιλοπατρία) as the latter simply means devotion and loyalty to one's nation and/or culture and is not at odds with Orthodoxy.

Quote from: St. Seraphim.org
Most Eastern Orthodox parishes are especially serving one of those communities who have arrived from different countries such as the Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Finns, Serbians, Antiochians etc. These parishes vary in the amount of English in their services if any. Many Orthodox Christians must travel long distances to find a local Church that is familiar to their ethnic background. All the churches make some attempt to accomodate those of other ethnic traditions with more or less success. To not do so would constitute the sin of phyletism.

Ecumenical Councils are infallible because the whole church, including the laity (the faithful) agreed on the dogmas promulgated; but what about the Churches of the East, who only only accept the first two councils and comprised a fairly large chunk of Christendom then to the east and the Oriental Orthodox who only accept the first three councils and composed a large chunk of Africa then? Hardly a quorum there.
As to the Ecumenical Councils, there is more to them than simple conciliar agreement;[1] as to universality vs. dissent, insofar as each Ecumenical Council was itself a reaction to existing dissent, dissent would necessarily exist ipso facto in any case. There is obviously more to it than this, but if the mere fact of dissent is regarded as decisively problematic, everyone of any and every persuasion whatsoever is in trouble!
_______________
[1] "...a doctrine did not become orthodox because a council said it was, but a council was orthodox -and therefore binding- because the doctrine it confessed was orthodox" (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (University of Chicago Press), p. 24.




« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 02:11:23 AM by xariskai » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2012, 03:25:06 AM »


Welcome to the forum Jack2012!

It seems to me that your biggest issue is with the "ethnic" element you are encountering within Orthodoxy in the United States.

This particular situation only exists in the U.S.  In other words in Romania, everyone is Romanian and has no issues speaking Romanian, and having Romanian festivals.  Same in Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, etc.

America is a melting pot of peoples. 

On one hand you find this to be a limitation, and almost a hindrance to your growth within Orthodoxy.

On the other hand, you should be grateful for these "ethnic" parishes....for it is exactly these "foreign" people who brought Orthodoxy to your doorstep.  Had they not, you would only have been reading about it in books....not seeing it and living it.

Certainly, each parish will reflect the homeland of the people who came here, preserved their faith, and built their church. 

Why not approach it as a "plus".  I think it's rather cool learning everyone's customs and traditions.

Remember, the Faith is the same....the languages might be different, the people might look different, the food might taste different....but, the Faith is NOT different.

Unless you are an Native American (Indian), even your roots come from foreign lands.  Embrace the differences, for these are all God's people...many flavors of His design.

Once again, welcome to the forum from a Ukrainian American.  Smiley

PS.  We have many churches in the UOC that only serve in English for our non-Ukrainian faithful.


I would say that this problem is in any of the English speaking countries, not just America.

Don't be put of by the national names, there are many English services apart from here in Greece where there is none.

Like any church, there is the friendly and the not so friendly, just visit it some in your area, where ever that is...!

Welcome to the forum jack2012
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 07:48:27 AM »

Welcome to the forum!

As a non-ethnic American

There's no such thing. "American" is as exotic or ethnic as any other culture. Those Greeks, Russians, Arabs and Serbs would feel "non-ethnic" church just as alien as you feel those "ethnic" parishes. While I understand your being uncomfortable in so-called ethic churches (I would probably too) you must understand that they were Orthodox before you and those weirdo exotic habits connect them to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 01:42:06 PM »

This is not a purely Orthodox phenomenon, but rather is a fairly common immigrant experience. For example, my husband was raised in an Irish Catholic neighborhood, in an Irish Catholic parish, went to an Irish Catholic parochial school and before conversion, would refer to himself as Irish Catholic.
In my case, it wasn't so long ago that you would find several Lutheran churches in small towns in Wisconsin and Minnesota - the Finnish, Swedish and German Lutheran congregations, as well as the "English" one.
It's not so hard to understand why there would be so-called ethnic parishes - it's a little piece of familiar home in a strange land.
America is a land of immigrants, unless you're Native American.
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2012, 02:40:33 PM »

         
   I also struggle with the ethnic core of the Orthodox churches. Where’s pan-Orthodoxy when the emphasis is on nationality: the Greeks, the Russians, the Arabs, the Serbs all have groups and classes for language, music and dance, as well as frequent festivals that are nationally oriented. Even the OCA, the “American Church” has very distinctive Russian ambiance and customs.  I attended an Antiochian church, which has many converts, and the service (which they called a mass) was half in Arabic. As a non-ethnic American, I hardly fit in and wonder how these churches, who say they welcome converts, can possibly be the future of Christianity in its fullness.
   I understand that no church is going to be error-free- after all, they are all run by humans and it has been a long time since the Age of Apostles- but where can a present day Christian (Bible-believer) find the fullness of faith?
   Thank you.
 Jack
   

I've been attending an OCA church for about 6 months and I understand what you mean about the "ethnic" influence. Randomly my priest will change over to Church Slavonic in Liturgy and it makes me a little crazy. Some of the liturgical songs are sung occasionally in Slavonic which isn't as bad but I'd prefer it in english. One the one hand I understand that most of the parish grew up when the whole service or most of it was in Slavonic and to hear it brings back good memories of their childhood and parents and family who are no longer with us. On the other, as a newbie, when it goes back and forth I find it distruptive and a little irritating. The reason the OCA has the russian influence is because in OCA history, Orthodoxy was brought to the states from Russia to Alaska and down into the States. See: http://oca.org/history-archives

My priest has explained it that all of Orthodoxy is the same in Tradition (with a capital T) handed down from the Church Fathers but different in tradition (with a small t) because of locality and culture. So I try to keep in mind the respect of the history of the OCA with the small t (don't sweat the small stuff) experiences and hold onto the big T experiences.

Hope that helps!
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