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Author Topic: The Orthodox Church as "The Lazy Servant"  (Read 2095 times) Average Rating: 0
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Big Chris
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« on: June 18, 2012, 07:15:21 PM »

We should all know the parable of the talents:

“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed.  So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’ 

“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed?  In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest.  Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins.  Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them.  Now take the worthless servant and throw him outside into the darkness.’

“People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth."

Matt 25:24-30

The parable can just as easily be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution just as much as it can apply to our personal, spiritual lives; in fact, the parable provides an excellent lesson for a tried and true business model.  What I want to ask - in light of some of the other threads currently floating about the forum concerning the Orthodox Church's fidelity to the "deposit of faith" and Tradition - is:  Does the Orthodox Church fit the characterization of the "lazy servant" who has held so steadfastly to not changing anything about the talent which he has received that, in the end, his resoluteness proves to be his damnation?

In my opinion, it does.  Here's why I think so.

The Orthodox Church projects the image of a glass house sterilely protecting what was put into it in the first century.  While Tradition has been a safeguard against liberal innovators who think that theology can perpetually created anew in each generation, it has also discouraged constructive insights that augment the true faith.  Too many Orthodox bishops over the centuries, afraid of new ideas, have held too great of a cavalier attitude as they dare not see any minutiae of the deposit of faith be lost to their administration.  As such, it is my opinion that such fear has become endemic to the very ecclesial structure of the Church itself and, through such fear, it has become the "lazy servant," afraid of having any new, constructive ideas at all.  It seems plainly evident that the retort, "Why should there be new ideas?" is the prima facie modus operandi of such fear.

I hope there are some here who can prove me wrong.
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2012, 07:51:30 PM »

No one can prove you wrong unless you have first proved yourself wrong.
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2012, 08:04:05 PM »

No one can prove you wrong unless you have first proved yourself wrong.

No doubt.  While I hope a good discussion can be had regarding this subject, I am open to being proven wrong.  I am arrogant but Not so arrogant as that.
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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2012, 09:44:08 PM »

We should all know the parable of the talents:

“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed.  So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’ 

“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed?  In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest.  Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins.  Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them.  Now take the worthless servant and throw him outside into the darkness.’

“People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth."

Matt 25:24-30

The parable can just as easily be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution just as much as it can apply to our personal, spiritual lives; in fact, the parable provides an excellent lesson for a tried and true business model.  What I want to ask - in light of some of the other threads currently floating about the forum concerning the Orthodox Church's fidelity to the "deposit of faith" and Tradition - is:  Does the Orthodox Church fit the characterization of the "lazy servant" who has held so steadfastly to not changing anything about the talent which he has received that, in the end, his resoluteness proves to be his damnation?

In my opinion, it does.  Here's why I think so.

The Orthodox Church projects the image of a glass house sterilely protecting what was put into it in the first century.  While Tradition has been a safeguard against liberal innovators who think that theology can perpetually created anew in each generation, it has also discouraged constructive insights that augment the true faith.  Too many Orthodox bishops over the centuries, afraid of new ideas, have held too great of a cavalier attitude as they dare not see any minutiae of the deposit of faith be lost to their administration.  As such, it is my opinion that such fear has become endemic to the very ecclesial structure of the Church itself and, through such fear, it has become the "lazy servant," afraid of having any new, constructive ideas at all.  It seems plainly evident that the retort, "Why should there be new ideas?" is the prima facie modus operandi of such fear.

I hope there are some here who can prove me wrong.

Wrong is wrong.  It needs no proof.
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2012, 09:53:37 PM »

Perhaps you would enjoy this article, by Abp. HILARION: http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/2.aspx
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2012, 10:14:12 PM »

Must be a lazy servant which survived 500 years of Turkish oppression.
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2012, 10:35:35 PM »

Must be a lazy servant which survived 500 years of Turkish oppression.

What did this lazy servant do beyond keep its first century faith secure in a safe deposit box for those 500 years?

This is the scope of the OP.
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2012, 10:36:05 PM »

The Orthodox Church projects the image of a glass house sterilely protecting what was put into it in the first century.  While Tradition has been a safeguard against liberal innovators who think that theology can perpetually created anew in each generation, it has also discouraged constructive insights that augment the true faith.  Too many Orthodox bishops over the centuries, afraid of new ideas, have held too great of a cavalier attitude as they dare not see any minutiae of the deposit of faith be lost to their administration.  As such, it is my opinion that such fear has become endemic to the very ecclesial structure of the Church itself and, through such fear, it has become the "lazy servant," afraid of having any new, constructive ideas at all.  It seems plainly evident that the retort, "Why should there be new ideas?" is the prima facie modus operandi of such fear.

This deserves a standing ovation just for its prose.

But I disagree with you.
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2012, 10:41:08 PM »

Perhaps you would enjoy this article, by Abp. HILARION: http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/2.aspx

I haven't had a chance to read the full article yet, but I thank you for it.  I enjoy his interpretation of the same parable:

Quote
It is obvious why Christian faith should be “apostolic”: transmitted by God the Word become flesh, it was passed on to the apostles as a talent for them to multiply in order to bear fruit, thirty-fold and sixty-fold and an hundred-fold in the history of different nations.

The matter then becomes an issue of hermeneutics.
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2012, 11:21:11 PM »

Well, first of all, I totally agree with everything that Achronos said.

In Orthodoxy the Church does grow and change, and this is evident in many things. It isn't as though everyone celebrates the Divine Liturgy in one language, for example, it is adapted. What must remain constant is the doctrines and the faith itself. It is written in Hebrews 13:8- "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever."  The faith of the Church is one that holds to the teachings of Jesus Christ, which never change, even as the Church changes other aspects to conform with the inconstant and imperfect Earth. I've used this analogy before, but here goes. If we allow the faith itself to change to conform to these modern standards, it becomes like a game of Telephone. Things keep getting rearranged and miscommunicated to the point where the final statement is totally different from the one that we were supposed to start with. God bless, and I'm happy to answer any questions I can that you might have. Smiley

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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2012, 12:15:41 AM »

I think you're entire post is a category error. You say it 'can be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution.' but I see nothing about the parable to indicate that the servants=the Church. Rather the Church is the treasure while the servants are the individual members thereof.

Is the Orthodox Church full of 'lazy servants' (and foolish virgins, and ungrateful servants who refuse to forgive 100 denarii, and prodigal sons, and tares)? Yes. Definitely. But the Church is not 'a servant'. In the parable immediately beforehand, Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, and we are the foolish or wise virgins who accompany her. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Jesus Christ, the ark of salvation and the treasure we have been given.
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 12:31:19 AM »

I think you're entire post is a category error. You say it 'can be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution.' but I see nothing about the parable to indicate that the servants=the Church. Rather the Church is the treasure while the servants are the individual members thereof.

Is the Orthodox Church full of 'lazy servants' (and foolish virgins, and ungrateful servants who refuse to forgive 100 denarii, and prodigal sons, and tares)? Yes. Definitely. But the Church is not 'a servant'. In the parable immediately beforehand, Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, and we are the foolish or wise virgins who accompany her. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Jesus Christ, the ark of salvation and the treasure we have been given.

Well said.
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2012, 12:59:26 AM »

I think you're entire post is a category error. You say it 'can be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution.' but I see nothing about the parable to indicate that the servants=the Church. Rather the Church is the treasure while the servants are the individual members thereof.

Is the Orthodox Church full of 'lazy servants' (and foolish virgins, and ungrateful servants who refuse to forgive 100 denarii, and prodigal sons, and tares)? Yes. Definitely. But the Church is not 'a servant'. In the parable immediately beforehand, Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, and we are the foolish or wise virgins who accompany her. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Jesus Christ, the ark of salvation and the treasure we have been given.
Once again, extremely beautiful and very clear, witega. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2012, 02:15:52 AM »

I think you're entire post is a category error. You say it 'can be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution.' but I see nothing about the parable to indicate that the servants=the Church. Rather the Church is the treasure while the servants are the individual members thereof.

Is the Orthodox Church full of 'lazy servants' (and foolish virgins, and ungrateful servants who refuse to forgive 100 denarii, and prodigal sons, and tares)? Yes. Definitely. But the Church is not 'a servant'. In the parable immediately beforehand, Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, and we are the foolish or wise virgins who accompany her. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Jesus Christ, the ark of salvation and the treasure we have been given.
Wow, wonderful words. Just wow.
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2012, 09:16:36 AM »

Yes, it's difficult to discuss when the underlying assumption is so wrong. While that may be your personal opinion, it doesn't seem to be supported by history.
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2012, 09:27:53 AM »

I think you're entire post is a category error. You say it 'can be applied to churches, ecclesiology and any institution.' but I see nothing about the parable to indicate that the servants=the Church. Rather the Church is the treasure while the servants are the individual members thereof.

Is the Orthodox Church full of 'lazy servants' (and foolish virgins, and ungrateful servants who refuse to forgive 100 denarii, and prodigal sons, and tares)? Yes. Definitely. But the Church is not 'a servant'. In the parable immediately beforehand, Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, and we are the foolish or wise virgins who accompany her. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Jesus Christ, the ark of salvation and the treasure we have been given.

The minas ("talent" or "treasure") is not something which is definitively isolated to a single thing as it can be applied to the deposit of faith, personal faith, contemplative prayer, the Church, Israel, or even capital investment as that seems to the clearest, most erudite interpretation.  What you offer, then, is really nothing more than another (personal) interpretation.

If the Master of the parable is seen as referring to Christ, then "[t]he Savior reveals Himself, out of His abundance, to dispense goods to His servants according to the ability of each recipient.  Thereby, His servants can increase them by useful activity and then return to account for them…  [Paul says,] "The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, the same you should commit to faithful men, who will also be able to teach others."  So states Clement of Alexandria.  Origen asserts that “those who have received the ten talents are those who have been entrusted with the dispensing of the Word, which has been committed to them."  Thus, Clement and Origen both agree that the people in the parable are entrusted with quantities of wealth; that is, they are given charge over something of value given to them by someone outside.  That quantity of wealth is the gospel truth which is the deposit of faith and churches are the servants given charge over that wealth.

Now you will likely say, 'Yes, but Gregory of Nyssa sees the wealth as the graces of God, or Augustine sees the wealth as the divine gifts," which only further demonstrates how this parable is subject to hermeneutics, but at least my interpretation, for the purpose of this thread, finds support in the Fathers, as well.  And to that end I think we must restrict ourselves to such an interpretation, seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2012, 09:44:48 AM »

...seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Even if we accept your premise that Christ is the Master in the parable and the talents are the deposit of faith (which is reasonable), it does not necessarily follow that the Orthodox Church is the lazy servant. That is your unsupported opinion. Which unfortunately leaves us with nothing to discuss. You have a particular personal opinion or vision of the Orthodox Church which also does not necessarily reflect the reality of history.
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« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2012, 10:15:17 AM »

...seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Even if we accept your premise that Christ is the Master in the parable and the talents are the deposit of faith (which is reasonable), it does not necessarily follow that the Orthodox Church is the lazy servant. That is your unsupported opinion. Which unfortunately leaves us with nothing to discuss. You have a particular personal opinion or vision of the Orthodox Church which also does not necessarily reflect the reality of history.
You took the same thoughts I had when reading his post and turned it into a calm reply that makes sense Smiley I agree
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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2012, 10:39:32 AM »

...seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Even if we accept your premise that Christ is the Master in the parable and the talents are the deposit of faith (which is reasonable), it does not necessarily follow that the Orthodox Church is the lazy servant. That is your unsupported opinion. Which unfortunately leaves us with nothing to discuss. You have a particular personal opinion or vision of the Orthodox Church which also does not necessarily reflect the reality of history.

Telling me that I'm wrong or that such-and-such is my opinion is hardly any way to convince me, convince any lurkers/doubters on this forum, or adequately defend Orthodoxy.  I'm not here to attack Orthodoxy, but to discuss a presentation of the Orthodox Church as the lazy servant, a presentation which, I believe, more closely reflects the reality of history because Orthodoxy has guarded its first century treasure so well that it is incapable of facilitating new ideas that support and nuance sound doctrine. 
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 10:53:00 AM »

The Orthodox Church projects the image of a glass house sterilely protecting what was put into it in the first century. 

This is a personal subjective opinion - to you the Orthodox Church projects this image. Does it project it to anyone else? Not so far, it seems, on this thread anyway. There's nothing wrong with having opinions. Personally I have opinions or preferences on almost everything!
Asking for evidence to support your opinion is not saying you're wrong nor is it being critical, because personal opinions are just that - on the level of preferring chocolate to vanilla. It's asking you to support a personal subjective impression or opinion with some objective facts. Then we can argue about interpretation! Won't that be fun?
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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2012, 10:56:32 AM »

...seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Even if we accept your premise that Christ is the Master in the parable and the talents are the deposit of faith (which is reasonable), it does not necessarily follow that the Orthodox Church is the lazy servant. That is your unsupported opinion. Which unfortunately leaves us with nothing to discuss. You have a particular personal opinion or vision of the Orthodox Church which also does not necessarily reflect the reality of history.

Telling me that I'm wrong or that such-and-such is my opinion is hardly any way to convince me,
Well, you DID come right out and say it was your opinion. Wink
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« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2012, 10:58:23 AM »

...seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Even if we accept your premise that Christ is the Master in the parable and the talents are the deposit of faith (which is reasonable), it does not necessarily follow that the Orthodox Church is the lazy servant. That is your unsupported opinion. Which unfortunately leaves us with nothing to discuss. You have a particular personal opinion or vision of the Orthodox Church which also does not necessarily reflect the reality of history.

Telling me that I'm wrong or that such-and-such is my opinion is hardly any way to convince me, convince any lurkers/doubters on this forum, or adequately defend Orthodoxy.  I'm not here to attack Orthodoxy, but to discuss a presentation of the Orthodox Church as the lazy servant, a presentation which, I believe, more closely reflects the reality of history because Orthodoxy has guarded its first century treasure so well that it is incapable of facilitating new ideas that support and nuance sound doctrine. 
What new ideas do you specifically refer to?
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« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2012, 11:25:19 AM »

...seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Even if we accept your premise that Christ is the Master in the parable and the talents are the deposit of faith (which is reasonable), it does not necessarily follow that the Orthodox Church is the lazy servant. That is your unsupported opinion. Which unfortunately leaves us with nothing to discuss. You have a particular personal opinion or vision of the Orthodox Church which also does not necessarily reflect the reality of history.

Telling me that I'm wrong or that such-and-such is my opinion is hardly any way to convince me, convince any lurkers/doubters on this forum, or adequately defend Orthodoxy.  I'm not here to attack Orthodoxy, but to discuss a presentation of the Orthodox Church as the lazy servant, a presentation which, I believe, more closely reflects the reality of history because Orthodoxy has guarded its first century treasure so well that it is incapable of facilitating new ideas that support and nuance sound doctrine. 

Orthodoxy is not a servant.
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« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2012, 11:54:27 AM »

The Orthodox Church projects the image of a glass house sterilely protecting what was put into it in the first century. 

This is a personal subjective opinion - to you the Orthodox Church projects this image. Does it project it to anyone else? Not so far, it seems, on this thread anyway. There's nothing wrong with having opinions. Personally I have opinions or preferences on almost everything!
Asking for evidence to support your opinion is not saying you're wrong nor is it being critical, because personal opinions are just that - on the level of preferring chocolate to vanilla. It's asking you to support a personal subjective impression or opinion with some objective facts. Then we can argue about interpretation! Won't that be fun?

Unfortunately I think the categories are quite different.  While one's palette for chocolate or vanilla is indeed a personal subjective opinion, we are dealing here with biblical hermeneutics and ecclesial history.  Again, if Christ is the Master and the wealth is the deposit of faith and the churches are the servants entrusted with that wealth, I do not see anything in Orthodox church history to suggest that it has done anything more than bury the wealth in the ground fearful of irritating its Master.  And I have not read anything in this thread thus far to suggest otherwise.  If there is no concern for proving my disposition wrong, then this again further illustrates my point, for it seems that Orthodox Christians are more concerned about preserving their own than multiplying Christ's wealth.
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« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2012, 01:08:56 PM »

Now you will likely say, 'Yes, but Gregory of Nyssa sees the wealth as the graces of God, or Augustine sees the wealth as the divine gifts," which only further demonstrates how this parable is subject to hermeneutics, but at least my interpretation, for the purpose of this thread, finds support in the Fathers, as well.  And to that end I think we must restrict ourselves to such an interpretation, seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Matt 25: 14. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a..." servant? No. Like three servants? No. The kingdom of heaven is like "a man travelling into a far country, who...".
I agree that the Master is Christ. And have no dispute that the talents are a multivalent image that can be applied to anything which 'the Master' grants. But the 'lazy servant' cannot be the Church because in the very first sentence Christ has already identified what the Church is in this parable--it *is* the parable, it is the context within which individual figures of the servants exist and act. (You say your interpretation finds support in the Fathers, but if you can find a Father who does not equate the Kingdom of Heaven and the Church, I'll be shocked).

And note the plural. Because this is not a parable about a lazy servant. It is a parable about 3 servants. So if the lazy servant is the Orthodox Church then who are the two good and faithful servants? Rome and Protestantism? The Assyrian Church of the East and the OOs? Judaism and Islam? I presume you are not going to argue that we should re-interpret every explicit Scriptural and Patristic reference to One Church, One Body, in light of your interpretation of this particular parable. So if we are, instead, to interpret the parable in light of those verses, none of the servants can be the Church because the servants are something there can be plural of, whereas the Church is One.

You can be the lazy servant. So can I. So can my priest or my bishop. And indeed, if you are trying to argue that the majority of Orthodox bishops, priests, and laity for the last 1000 years have been lazy servants, then I won't disagree with you. But I'd have to ask "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." (Rom 14:4) Indeed, to the extent that you think this verse has anything to do with identify the lazy servant as anyone other than yourself, I think you've missed the point.
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« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2012, 01:09:30 PM »

The Orthodox Church projects the image of a glass house sterilely protecting what was put into it in the first century. 

This is a personal subjective opinion - to you the Orthodox Church projects this image. Does it project it to anyone else? Not so far, it seems, on this thread anyway. There's nothing wrong with having opinions. Personally I have opinions or preferences on almost everything!
Asking for evidence to support your opinion is not saying you're wrong nor is it being critical, because personal opinions are just that - on the level of preferring chocolate to vanilla. It's asking you to support a personal subjective impression or opinion with some objective facts. Then we can argue about interpretation! Won't that be fun?

Unfortunately I think the categories are quite different.  While one's palette for chocolate or vanilla is indeed a personal subjective opinion, we are dealing here with biblical hermeneutics and ecclesial history.  Again, if Christ is the Master and the wealth is the deposit of faith and the churches are the servants entrusted with that wealth, I do not see anything in Orthodox church history to suggest that it has done anything more than bury the wealth in the ground fearful of irritating its Master.  And I have not read anything in this thread thus far to suggest otherwise.  If there is no concern for proving my disposition wrong, then this again further illustrates my point, for it seems that Orthodox Christians are more concerned about preserving their own than multiplying Christ's wealth.
What does it mean to you to "multiply Christ's wealth"? So far I've not seen you give a definition of this, which would be quite helpful as a guide to knowing how we need to address your concerns.
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« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2012, 01:38:31 PM »

Now you will likely say, 'Yes, but Gregory of Nyssa sees the wealth as the graces of God, or Augustine sees the wealth as the divine gifts," which only further demonstrates how this parable is subject to hermeneutics, but at least my interpretation, for the purpose of this thread, finds support in the Fathers, as well.  And to that end I think we must restrict ourselves to such an interpretation, seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Matt 25: 14. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a..." servant? No. Like three servants? No. The kingdom of heaven is like "a man travelling into a far country, who...".
I agree that the Master is Christ. And have no dispute that the talents are a multivalent image that can be applied to anything which 'the Master' grants. But the 'lazy servant' cannot be the Church because in the very first sentence Christ has already identified what the Church is in this parable--it *is* the parable, it is the context within which individual figures of the servants exist and act. (You say your interpretation finds support in the Fathers, but if you can find a Father who does not equate the Kingdom of Heaven and the Church, I'll be shocked).

Actually, it's not hard at all to find a Father who does not equate the Kingdom of Heaven with the Church.  This is just bad theology and bad ecclesiology.  The Kingdom is larger than the Church.  After all, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt 7:21). Or, in the words of St. Augustine, "Many whom God has, the Church does not have. And many whom the Church has, God does not have."  When the Church identifies or equates itself with the Kingdom, the Church is declaring that it is the saving presence of God on earth and at least implying that God is not present as a saving God anywhere else except in the Church.  If the Church is regarded as the Kingdom, then a person who criticizes the Church and calls for institutional and structural change is, in effect, criticizing God and calling for change in the way God chooses to deal with us and be with us.

The Church is meant to be:

1. a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God already begun;
2. a sign revealing God's Kingdom or redemptive presence now;
3. a servant of the continuous unfolding of the Kingdom.

As for the rest of what you say in your post, I can only take that to mean that you have no direct, adequate response to my thesis concerning the Orthodox Church as a glass house.
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« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2012, 01:40:12 PM »

As for the rest of what you say in your post, I can only take that to mean that you have no direct, adequate response to my thesis concerning the Orthodox Church as a glass house.

Have fun playing your games Chris.
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« Reply #28 on: June 19, 2012, 01:44:59 PM »


Have fun playing your games Chris.

I'm sorry that you think I'm playing a game.  Or do you just wish to undermine my efforts to have my questions answered because you can't answer them?  Did you think I would just sit back and placidly accept any answer that you gave like everyone else here on the forum?  I stated in my OP that I would like to discuss this topic in all earnestness but all I have received thus far is aversions.
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« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2012, 01:48:24 PM »

parables and metaphors can be interpreted in many ways, that does not mean that a certain manner of interpretation is true or intended among parts.. i applaud your prose also.. my question is , if the EO is the lazy servant , who are the other two and why it's the talent of the least given to the one who has the most?Did God imparted different kinds of talents to the three servants?How much talents can one collect?Why 10, 5 and 1?Do these numbers have any meaning.. Where does it stop? Is 11 the maximum?
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« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2012, 01:57:49 PM »

Must be a lazy servant which survived 500 years of Turkish oppression.

What did this lazy servant do beyond keep its first century faith secure in a safe deposit box for those 500 years?

This is the scope of the OP.

Producing millions of saints is laziness?
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« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2012, 01:58:53 PM »

Too many people in this thread think that I am saying that when Christ delivered His parable that, at that time, he was speaking about something called the Orthodox Church plus two other servants.  If there was some miscommunication concerning that, then forgive me but I thought my OP was quite clear.  Even if it wasn't, I thought my several restatements were clear.  Either apparently not or all this aggravation thus far has merely been an intentional aversion from the question being asked.  All that I am actually getting at is that the Orthodox Church demonstrates apt characteristics of the "lazy servant" in the parable.  

[If you want to know the real, integral interpretation of the parable, modern scholarship seems to be consistently of the opinion that it really was a parable that struck to the core of capital investment with moral overtones.]
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« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2012, 02:00:03 PM »

Must be a lazy servant which survived 500 years of Turkish oppression.

What did this lazy servant do beyond keep its first century faith secure in a safe deposit box for those 500 years?

This is the scope of the OP.

Producing millions of saints is laziness?

Who's asking about sainthood?

From the OP:

Quote
Too many Orthodox bishops over the centuries, afraid of new ideas, have held too great of a cavalier attitude as they dare not see any minutiae of the deposit of faith be lost to their administration.  As such, it is my opinion that such fear has become endemic to the very ecclesial structure of the Church itself and, through such fear, it has become the "lazy servant," afraid of having any new, constructive ideas at all.  It seems plainly evident that the retort, "Why should there be new ideas?" is the prima facie modus operandi of such fear.
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« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2012, 02:05:05 PM »

Too many people in this thread think that I am saying that when Christ delivered His parable that, at that time, he was speaking about something called the Orthodox Church plus two other servants.  If there was some miscommunication concerning that, then forgive me but I thought my OP was quite clear.  Even if it wasn't, I thought my several restatements were clear.  Either apparently not or all this aggravation thus far has merely been an intentional aversion from the question being asked.  All that I am actually getting at is that the Orthodox Church demonstrates apt characteristics of the "lazy servant" in the parable.  

[If you want to know the real, integral interpretation of the parable, modern scholarship seems to be consistently of the opinion that it really was a parable that struck to the core of capital investment with moral overtones.]

In the parable Jesus speaks of three servants , or three categories of servants if you want.In order for a parable having application to the very Church of Christ all variables need to be met.Those tend to be pretty exact if you ask me.
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« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2012, 02:17:07 PM »

I would think that many Orthodox Christians are lazy servants, and I am the first of them. Let us all work more.
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« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2012, 02:25:45 PM »

Must be a lazy servant which survived 500 years of Turkish oppression.

What did this lazy servant do beyond keep its first century faith secure in a safe deposit box for those 500 years?

This is the scope of the OP.

Producing millions of saints is laziness?

Who's asking about sainthood?

From the OP:

Quote
Too many Orthodox bishops over the centuries, afraid of new ideas, have held too great of a cavalier attitude as they dare not see any minutiae of the deposit of faith be lost to their administration.  As such, it is my opinion that such fear has become endemic to the very ecclesial structure of the Church itself and, through such fear, it has become the "lazy servant," afraid of having any new, constructive ideas at all.  It seems plainly evident that the retort, "Why should there be new ideas?" is the prima facie modus operandi of such fear.

Then you asked the wrong question. Because the mission of the Church is to sanctify, which has nothing to do with "new ideas," per se. Amongst those "new ideas" are good and bad ones. Some further the Church in her mission and she uses them, some do not and she preaches against them. So, I suppose I don't see your point in this, unless you want to be specific.
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« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2012, 03:04:27 PM »

Must be a lazy servant which survived 500 years of Turkish oppression.

What did this lazy servant do beyond keep its first century faith secure in a safe deposit box for those 500 years?

This is the scope of the OP.

Producing millions of saints is laziness?

Who's asking about sainthood?

From the OP:

Quote
Too many Orthodox bishops over the centuries, afraid of new ideas, have held too great of a cavalier attitude as they dare not see any minutiae of the deposit of faith be lost to their administration.  As such, it is my opinion that such fear has become endemic to the very ecclesial structure of the Church itself and, through such fear, it has become the "lazy servant," afraid of having any new, constructive ideas at all.  It seems plainly evident that the retort, "Why should there be new ideas?" is the prima facie modus operandi of such fear.
What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?
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« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2012, 03:11:27 PM »

What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?

I think it's more a matter of principle.
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« Reply #38 on: June 19, 2012, 03:18:53 PM »

Now you will likely say, 'Yes, but Gregory of Nyssa sees the wealth as the graces of God, or Augustine sees the wealth as the divine gifts," which only further demonstrates how this parable is subject to hermeneutics, but at least my interpretation, for the purpose of this thread, finds support in the Fathers, as well.  And to that end I think we must restrict ourselves to such an interpretation, seeing Christ as Master, the talents as the deposit of faith, and the lazy servant as the Orthodox Church.

Matt 25: 14. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a..." servant? No. Like three servants? No. The kingdom of heaven is like "a man travelling into a far country, who...".
I agree that the Master is Christ. And have no dispute that the talents are a multivalent image that can be applied to anything which 'the Master' grants. But the 'lazy servant' cannot be the Church because in the very first sentence Christ has already identified what the Church is in this parable--it *is* the parable, it is the context within which individual figures of the servants exist and act. (You say your interpretation finds support in the Fathers, but if you can find a Father who does not equate the Kingdom of Heaven and the Church, I'll be shocked).

Actually, it's not hard at all to find a Father who does not equate the Kingdom of Heaven with the Church.  This is just bad theology and bad ecclesiology.  The Kingdom is larger than the Church.  After all, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt 7:21). Or, in the words of St. Augustine, "Many whom God has, the Church does not have. And many whom the Church has, God does not have."  When the Church identifies or equates itself with the Kingdom, the Church is declaring that it is the saving presence of God on earth and at least implying that God is not present as a saving God anywhere else except in the Church.  If the Church is regarded as the Kingdom, then a person who criticizes the Church and calls for institutional and structural change is, in effect, criticizing God and calling for change in the way God chooses to deal with us and be with us.

The Church is meant to be:

1. a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God already begun;
2. a sign revealing God's Kingdom or redemptive presence now;
3. a servant of the continuous unfolding of the Kingdom.

As for the rest of what you say in your post, I can only take that to mean that you have no direct, adequate response to my thesis concerning the Orthodox Church as a glass house.

Speaking of bad ecclesiology...
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« Reply #39 on: June 19, 2012, 03:22:42 PM »


Speaking of bad ecclesiology...

Wow.  You really proved me wrong with that snarky comment.
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« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2012, 03:23:12 PM »

The talents are not 'gospels' (i.e. faiths).   Rather, they are gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each person, that can either be utilized to share the one Faith, or not used and "preserved" in the ground (i.e. out of sight, unshared).  
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« Reply #41 on: June 19, 2012, 03:29:04 PM »

What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?

I think it's more a matter of principle.

I think maybe PeterTheAleut wants you to be specific about the context of your complaint--to move it out of your head and into the realm of discussion. Right now, it's difficult to discuss your concern or "prove you wrong" without specifics to deal with.
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« Reply #42 on: June 19, 2012, 03:31:25 PM »


Speaking of bad ecclesiology...

Wow.  You really proved me wrong with that snarky comment.

What's there to prove wrong? Your post was just a pontification with two short, out of context snippets.
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« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2012, 03:45:20 PM »

What's there to prove wrong? Your post was just a pontification with two short, out of context snippets.

If you cannot directly prove that the ecclesiology which I have "pontificated" above is wrong then I can only assume that you have no clue what you're talking about and you just want to sound like a big shot so you don't have to conscientiously deal with the ramifications of me being possibily right.
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« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2012, 03:51:06 PM »

What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?

I think it's more a matter of principle.

I think maybe PeterTheAleut wants you to be specific about the context of your complaint--to move it out of your head and into the realm of discussion. Right now, it's difficult to discuss your concern or "prove you wrong" without specifics to deal with.
Yes, that's what I'm trying to elicit. Unless you, Big Chris, can articulate for us how specifically we have refused to change and what kinds of new ideas you would like to see us introduce, I'm not really sure we can help you. A matter of principle needs specific examples to move from the abstract to the concrete.
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« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2012, 03:54:31 PM »

To everyone else: I would like to see us put an end to these defensive, sometimes hostile, replies. I think they're only doing more harm than good.
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« Reply #46 on: June 19, 2012, 04:01:03 PM »

What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?

I think it's more a matter of principle.

I think maybe PeterTheAleut wants you to be specific about the context of your complaint--to move it out of your head and into the realm of discussion. Right now, it's difficult to discuss your concern or "prove you wrong" without specifics to deal with.
Yes, that's what I'm trying to elicit. Unless you, Big Chris, can articulate for us how specifically we have refused to change and what kinds of new ideas you would like to see us introduce, I'm not really sure we can help you. A matter of principle needs specific examples to move from the abstract to the concrete.

Nicely put. Thank you.
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« Reply #47 on: June 19, 2012, 04:06:08 PM »

All that we have said about the great Christian Mysteries is not an opinion of our own (if it were an opinion of our own it would be worth nothing), but it is the repeated experience of the Apostles in the ancient days and of the saints up to our own days. For the Church of God lives not on opinion, but on the experience of the saints, as in the beginning, so in our days. The opinions of intellectual persons may be wonderfully clever and yet be false, whereas the experience of the saints is always true. It is God the Lord who is true to Himself in his saints.

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Chris, in your message you equate the bearing of fruit with the development of new ideas, thus betraying a very post-Schism scholastic and rationalistic approach to the Faith that is not shared by the apostolic Church.  What the Church so diligently safeguards is the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints”, and this faith is nothing other than the path of theosis, the method by which man becomes a sanctified dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and the means by which man attains to eternal salvation.  When doctrines are corrupted, when false teachings are introduced, the way of theosis also become obstructed and man is cut off from the very means by which he was to become a vessel of divine grace.

In the pre-Schism Church (outside of St. Augustine), theology was understood a fruit of hesychia, ceaseless prayer, ascesis, the union of the mind with the heart, and the experience of the grace of the Holy Spirit.  In the West, following the Schism, this genuine experience of the Holy Spirit, and the way to theosis, was abandoned in favor of a rationalistic approach to the faith which exalted reason and philosophy above divine revelation and the experience of the grace of God.  When the faith is made subservient to philosophy, and the mind theologizes outside of the Holy Spirit, this results in the development of new teachings which are contrary to the faith “once and for all delivered to the saints”, and which obstruct the way to theosis.  The way to theosis is always a way of foolishness to the Greeks (to those who seek intellectual stimulation from new ideas and spiritually barren philosophies), but is wisdom to those who are being saved (who seek salvation through the purification of the heart and the acquisition of the Holy Spirit through continual prayer). 

The bishops, saints, and Fathers of the Church have spurned Roman Catholic heresies precisely because they are the fruit of man’s barren reasoning operating outside of the experience of sanctification by the Holy Spirit.    Such “new ideas” obstruct and hinder man’s theosis, and thereby prevent man from bearing spiritual fruit.  True fruit is produced by those faithful servants who practice the commandments of Christ, who purify their hearts, and who become temples of the Holy Spirit and vessels of divine grace.  What draws many to the Orthodox Church is precisely the fact that saints in our own times continue to experience the grace of the Holy Spirit and exhibit the same power of the Holy Spirit as was seen in the lives of the Apostles and the earliest saints. 

The faith “once and for all delivered to the saints” is intellectually dry to those who have traded the gospel for philosophy; but is life and truth for those seeking to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit. 

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« Reply #48 on: June 19, 2012, 04:09:56 PM »

To everyone else: I would like to see us put an end to these defensive, sometimes hostile, replies. I think they're only doing more harm than good.

Thank you, Peter.  I wanted this to be a civil discussion, and I for my part apologize for my own rough language but from the outset this thread has been regarded with hostility and aversion when I have made repeated attempts to make it known that I am not trying to attack the Orthodox Church.  In fact, much of what I said in my OP could be applied to any church - Catholic and Protestant both.

People here seem to think of me as some sort of enemy when they forget that I am nearing to a stage when we will hopefully be in communion together.  Then again, after the reaction I've received in this thread, I'm having second thoughts.
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« Reply #49 on: June 19, 2012, 04:17:43 PM »

Do keep in mind that this form of communication is limited and flawed. We only have what you write to consider. Without actually knowing you, speaking with you face to face, we have nothing else to go on. There are thousands of posts on this forum and few will remember everything you write. So, you should base nothing on what you read here. Rather, if you really want to understand, you need to seek out real people and relationships, go to a real parish, ask a real priest--form relationships. Online relationships are fragments of the real thing.
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« Reply #50 on: June 19, 2012, 04:42:13 PM »

To everyone else: I would like to see us put an end to these defensive, sometimes hostile, replies. I think they're only doing more harm than good.

Thank you, Peter.  I wanted this to be a civil discussion, and I for my part apologize for my own rough language but from the outset this thread has been regarded with hostility and aversion when I have made repeated attempts to make it known that I am not trying to attack the Orthodox Church.  In fact, much of what I said in my OP could be applied to any church - Catholic and Protestant both.

People here seem to think of me as some sort of enemy when they forget that I am nearing to a stage when we will hopefully be in communion together.  Then again, after the reaction I've received in this thread, I'm having second thoughts.
One thing to remember when visiting this forum: Never take the general tone of any thread as representative of the whole of Orthodox Christianity. We Netodox are merely that minuscule percentage who choose to post on this forum, and we tend to be rather opinionated. There's really no substitute for learning an Orthodox culture from a living parish community.

I don't believe that you're attacking our Orthodox faith, and even if you were, our God is big enough that He can take some punching. If He chooses to defend Himself, He can, but He doesn't need us to defend Him.
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« Reply #51 on: June 19, 2012, 05:00:01 PM »

As for the rest of what you say in your post, I can only take that to mean that you have no direct, adequate response to my thesis concerning the Orthodox Church as a glass house.
And do you have no direct, adequate response to just what you refer to when you say that in keeping one original and true faith, the Orthodox church does not multiply Christ's wealth? In what things do you mean?
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« Reply #52 on: June 19, 2012, 05:12:33 PM »

What's there to prove wrong? Your post was just a pontification with two short, out of context snippets.

If you cannot directly prove that the ecclesiology which I have "pontificated" above is wrong then I can only assume that you have no clue what you're talking about and you just want to sound like a big shot so you don't have to conscientiously deal with the ramifications of me being possibily right.


The very fact that you did not substantiate a thing you said proves that you are wrong.
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« Reply #53 on: June 19, 2012, 05:56:26 PM »

I have to agree with everyone here Chris that your post is not clear as you only stated half a thought. This would be like me walking by you on the street and just saying boy chris your lazy and just keep walking on. Chris you would be thinking wow what made this person think such things of me as he never stated why or how come. So what are the examples that would give you such an opinion on this Church or any other Church.
Is it the fact that the liturgy is not in english, is it the fact that there not out in front with the mega churches putting on big shows, is it the fact that there there isn't one Orthodox church of America, these would be examples to finish your half thought.
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« Reply #54 on: June 19, 2012, 06:57:48 PM »

What's there to prove wrong? Your post was just a pontification with two short, out of context snippets.

If you cannot directly prove that the ecclesiology which I have "pontificated" above is wrong then I can only assume that you have no clue what you're talking about and you just want to sound like a big shot so you don't have to conscientiously deal with the ramifications of me being possibily right.


The very fact that you did not substantiate a thing you said proves that you are wrong.
No it doesn't. Now please let Big Chris speak his mind without attacking him. I, for one, would like to understand his complaints and learn how we can address them in truth.
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« Reply #55 on: June 19, 2012, 07:07:27 PM »

What's there to prove wrong? Your post was just a pontification with two short, out of context snippets.

If you cannot directly prove that the ecclesiology which I have "pontificated" above is wrong then I can only assume that you have no clue what you're talking about and you just want to sound like a big shot so you don't have to conscientiously deal with the ramifications of me being possibily right.


The very fact that you did not substantiate a thing you said proves that you are wrong.
No it doesn't. Now please let Big Chris speak his mind without attacking him. I, for one, would like to understand his complaints and learn how we can address them in truth.

Yes, it does. And pointing out that he's not substantiating anything is not attacking him.
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Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. - Matt. 5:24
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« Reply #56 on: June 19, 2012, 07:25:26 PM »

What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?

I think it's more a matter of principle.

I think maybe PeterTheAleut wants you to be specific about the context of your complaint--to move it out of your head and into the realm of discussion. Right now, it's difficult to discuss your concern or "prove you wrong" without specifics to deal with.
Yes, that's what I'm trying to elicit. Unless you, Big Chris, can articulate for us how specifically we have refused to change and what kinds of new ideas you would like to see us introduce, I'm not really sure we can help you. A matter of principle needs specific examples to move from the abstract to the concrete.

I am typing this on my iPad so forgive any misspellings. 

Please forgive my reluctance to spell out what "new ideas" I had in mind as I thought my OP was clear and I didn't want this thread to be derailed into a discussion of other matters, but it seems, at this point, I am left with no other option if I am to make my point.

Ecumenism and modernity are two examples of "new ideas." Changes in liturgical matters and devotions.  I think vernacular liturgies are still generally frowned upon by many.  These are some examples.
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« Reply #57 on: June 19, 2012, 07:30:36 PM »

What aspects of modernity?
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« Reply #58 on: June 19, 2012, 08:22:23 PM »

Changes in liturgical matters and devotions.

Compare the profundity of the Litany of Peace with the banality of the Prayers of the Faithful at your local Roman Church and tell me that the liturgy would be well-served by by accommodating aspects of modernity

Compare the beautiful simplicity of "help us, save us, have mercy on us and keep us, o God, by your grace!" with the inanity of "Lord, help us to practice free trade and be passionate about social justice" as heard at my local Anglican church.

I know this doesn't directly address your central point, but it's some data to consider.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 08:24:56 PM by akimori makoto » Logged

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« Reply #59 on: June 19, 2012, 08:37:04 PM »

What new, constructive ideas would you like to see? In what areas would you like to see these new ideas?

I think it's more a matter of principle.

I think maybe PeterTheAleut wants you to be specific about the context of your complaint--to move it out of your head and into the realm of discussion. Right now, it's difficult to discuss your concern or "prove you wrong" without specifics to deal with.
Yes, that's what I'm trying to elicit. Unless you, Big Chris, can articulate for us how specifically we have refused to change and what kinds of new ideas you would like to see us introduce, I'm not really sure we can help you. A matter of principle needs specific examples to move from the abstract to the concrete.

I am typing this on my iPad so forgive any misspellings.  

Please forgive my reluctance to spell out what "new ideas" I had in mind as I thought my OP was clear and I didn't want this thread to be derailed into a discussion of other matters, but it seems, at this point, I am left with no other option if I am to make my point.

Ecumenism and modernity are two examples of "new ideas."
Ecumenism and modernity can both mean a lot of things, depending both on what you intend to communicate and how your audience define these words. Would you care to explain in greater detail what you mean by ecumenism and modernity and why you think we should embrace them?

Changes in liturgical matters and devotions.
How do you see our liturgics and devotions as having stagnated?

I think vernacular liturgies are still generally frowned upon by many.
I'm not sure they have, if by "vernacular liturgy" you mean worship in the language of the people. We've been worshiping in the language of the people since before Ss. Cyril and Methodius fought to preserve this tradition in their work among the Slavs. Yes, we even have a tradition of adapting.  Additionally, even one of our more traditionalist modern saints, Archbishop John of Shanghai and San Francisco, gave his episcopal blessing to the use of a liturgical rite that had become a local tradition in a region of France. We also have many Orthodox who worship according to the Western Rite, and with the blessing of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. I'm therefore somewhat confused by your assertion that we have resisted liturgical adaptation and the use of vernacular liturgies.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 08:37:43 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #60 on: June 20, 2012, 10:36:56 AM »

From the very beginning post this seemed like trolling, so I don't feel sorry for you there, Big Chris.  If you were sincere, I think you got some sincere answers but you blew them off.  Sorry, but when you point a finger, three are pointing back.

That being said, I don't see how multiplying talents equates to multiplying new doctrines and practices.  I would think multiplying the talent would mean spreading the gospel, which seems to have been happening from the first century up to our own times.   It'd be easier to just say what you want without confusing it with a parable and making judgments.

So now, are you saying the Orthodox Church is a lazy servant who has damned herself by not being ecumenist and modernist?  That sounds completely backwards to me.

How is changing liturgics and devotions being a faithful servant?

Vernacular languages frowned upon?  Here's a quote about St. Innocent of Alaska from Wikipedia: "He learned several native languages and was the author of many of the earliest scholarly works about the native peoples and their languages, as well as dictionaries and religious works in their languages. He also translated parts of the Bible into several native languages" (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocent_of_Alaska).


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