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Author Topic: anyone tired of explaining themselves?  (Read 2407 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 05, 2012, 09:49:34 PM »

Are there any other converts who have dealt with the following?  If so, what helped you deal with it?

I have some friends who arent super comfortable with my conversion.  I have an episcopalian buddy in particular who isnt cool with it.  Hes one of my best friends, who I dont get to see very often anymore, but when we do hang out, we always have the best conversations.  Hes super smart and knows his stuff too when it comes to Church history, theology, etc.  Obviously, we have some disagreements, but why do I have to be the one whos pinned down answering all the questions?  Its not just him.  It happens with family too.  Its like we have to explain why we do the things we do. Example: "why do you have confession? thats not in the Bible..."

I dont respond harshly or hatefully, but it starts to wear on you a little bit.  I just wanna say, "No... why dont YOU answer ME this!! Why dont you have confession anymore?"

Anyone dealt with this?  Do I just need to suck it up and get used to it?  I dont mean to sound like a jerk.  Just need to vent and make sure im not the only one out there whos ever felt like this.

Pray for me.
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2012, 09:52:17 PM »

Timon, I'm just curious -- why would an episcopalian, of all people, be critical of your conversion?
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2012, 10:10:41 PM »

Your guess is as good as mine.

This particular friend is one that I grew up in the same evangelical church with.  We were in a band together and all that.  Still one of my best friends.  When I first told him that I wanted to convert, I thought he would be pumped for me because I know hes into theology and all that too.  (The college he went to had a pretty Roman Catholic leaning, so he tends to side with them when it comes to the RC or Orthodox...) 

In college, he and some friends had a little "communion mass" they would do by themselves on wednesdays before class.  It wasnt actually a Catholic school, so there werent priests or anything.  However, 2 people from that group did convert to RC.  They were excited, but the rest of their friends were kind of upset about it because they were leaving communion with them and they had always taken communion together.  My guess would be that he wouldnt want me to convert because he wouldnt want me to leave communion.  Personally, I dont see why its a big deal.  We live in different states now.  And it also doesnt help that hes more sympathetic to the RC than OC.  Dont know why... guess we interpret history differently.  He is smarter than me though.

But like I said, thats just one example that sticks out.  It happens with others too though. 
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2012, 10:35:24 PM »

The triumphalism in me was very tiring after awhile. I just keep religion to myself at this point, because I swear everytime it is brought up it becomes into an argument.

Mormons are the worst to talk to about religion.
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2012, 10:36:51 PM »

Your guess is as good as mine.

This particular friend is one that I grew up in the same evangelical church with.  We were in a band together and all that.  Still one of my best friends.  When I first told him that I wanted to convert, I thought he would be pumped for me because I know hes into theology and all that too.  (The college he went to had a pretty Roman Catholic leaning, so he tends to side with them when it comes to the RC or Orthodox...) 

In college, he and some friends had a little "communion mass" they would do by themselves on wednesdays before class.  It wasnt actually a Catholic school, so there werent priests or anything.  However, 2 people from that group did convert to RC.  They were excited, but the rest of their friends were kind of upset about it because they were leaving communion with them and they had always taken communion together.  My guess would be that he wouldnt want me to convert because he wouldnt want me to leave communion.  Personally, I dont see why its a big deal.  We live in different states now.  And it also doesnt help that hes more sympathetic to the RC than OC.  Dont know why... guess we interpret history differently.  He is smarter than me though.

But like I said, thats just one example that sticks out.  It happens with others too though. 

If it's any consolation, he sounds like a theological basketcase.

I'm sorry for the stresses you are experiencing. I can't imagine being in your position.
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2012, 10:38:36 PM »

Some people have been more accepting of my conversion than others- and it's usually the ones I was expecting to be more sympathetic that tend to be more critical. What surprises me is the violence of the disagreements- one person actually ended up screaming at the top of his lungs regarding Orthodox practices, and not out of any reaction to my own tone or any particular smugness in my explanation, just due to the vehemence they had to the very idea that someone might sincerely believe in something other than the standard Evangelical line (this particular person is also known to scream over disagreements in political policy- I heard him loudly berate someone for voting for a different candidate in the Republican primaries- so I suppose the violent disagreements over religion shouldn't be too surprising).

I think a big part of the reason Orthodox converts tend to be on the defensive is that we (as a Church) are so rarely on the offensive. Our entire "mission plan" tends to revolve more on living an Orthodox life than preaching Orthodoxy to one and all.
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2012, 10:41:53 PM »

I think a big part of the reason Orthodox converts tend to be on the defensive is that we (as a Church) are so rarely on the offensive. Our entire "mission plan" tends to revolve more on living an Orthodox life than preaching Orthodoxy to one and all.
That's pretty much it. I was tired of always been on the defensive about my faith. But wow at your story though. I try to calm down any debate/argument if I forsee it becoming a shouting match.

Once it did with a Mormon. Seriously it took every fiber of my being not to create a physical altercation against him. I've never encountered ignorance that was so detestable and somebody who was acting defensive to the point of resorting to ad hominems.
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2012, 10:45:55 PM »

The triumphalism in me was very tiring after awhile. I just keep religion to myself at this point, because I swear everytime it is brought up it becomes into an argument.

I actually do the same thing.  But when the discussions do come up, thats when I deal with this stuff.  I never start the discussions, but theres just a certain vibe out there.  Its like im wrong and therefore need to explain myself.  If anything, its the other way around, but I dont think I could ever say that to anyone.  So why do people say it to me?

Quote
Mormons are the worst to talk to about religion.

Oh i know.  They come to my door.  Once I told em they were just another one of the thousands of branches of protestantism to me...  Probably wasnt the nicest thing, but they interrupted my Sunday afternoon football watching/nap time.
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2012, 10:47:02 PM »

Your guess is as good as mine.

This particular friend is one that I grew up in the same evangelical church with.  We were in a band together and all that.  Still one of my best friends.  When I first told him that I wanted to convert, I thought he would be pumped for me because I know hes into theology and all that too.  (The college he went to had a pretty Roman Catholic leaning, so he tends to side with them when it comes to the RC or Orthodox...) 

In college, he and some friends had a little "communion mass" they would do by themselves on wednesdays before class.  It wasnt actually a Catholic school, so there werent priests or anything.  However, 2 people from that group did convert to RC.  They were excited, but the rest of their friends were kind of upset about it because they were leaving communion with them and they had always taken communion together.  My guess would be that he wouldnt want me to convert because he wouldnt want me to leave communion.  Personally, I dont see why its a big deal.  We live in different states now.  And it also doesnt help that hes more sympathetic to the RC than OC.  Dont know why... guess we interpret history differently.  He is smarter than me though.

But like I said, thats just one example that sticks out.  It happens with others too though. 

If it's any consolation, he sounds like a theological basketcase.

I'm sorry for the stresses you are experiencing. I can't imagine being in your position.

I just want to ask him why hes a member of a Church that so blatantly disregards 2000 years of Catholic tradition. 
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2012, 10:49:34 PM »

I had a friend who I thought would be the most aggressively against me converting who has in fact turned out to be the one who asks the most honest, sincere questions. This guy is normally a bulldog for Calvinism, but the hardest thing he has asked me was, "Practically speaking, what do you get out of Orthodoxy?"
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2012, 10:51:48 PM »

I don't talk about my faith. I practice it as quietly as possible, and when someone asks me about it, I answer their question and go no further. If anyone becomes argumentative, I brush it off and walk away, making it clear that I'm happy to explain but I won't debate. People catch on quickly, and either just keeping asking questions instead of trying to debate or just leave it alone. I'm fine with that.
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 10:53:55 PM »

The triumphalism in me was very tiring after awhile. I just keep religion to myself at this point, because I swear everytime it is brought up it becomes into an argument.

I actually do the same thing.  But when the discussions do come up, thats when I deal with this stuff.  I never start the discussions, but theres just a certain vibe out there.  Its like im wrong and therefore need to explain myself.  If anything, its the other way around, but I dont think I could ever say that to anyone.  So why do people say it to me?

Wait you mean why do they call you out on supposedly being wrong?

Quote
Mormons are the worst to talk to about religion.

Quote
Oh i know.  They come to my door.  Once I told em they were just another one of the thousands of branches of protestantism to me...  Probably wasnt the nicest thing, but they interrupted my Sunday afternoon football watching/nap time.
I have yet to meet a single Mormon who hasn't been brainwashed and those that aren't later disband from the Mormon church.

Seriously if there is one religion I despise with a passion it's that one. That same guy I was talking about claimed his Christ was the same as mine, and that's when we got into it.

It's amazing how fabricated their piousness is and that charade of being such a nice family is such a farce. I can't even count the numerous times they shun away their own family members.
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2012, 10:54:03 PM »

I think a big part of the reason Orthodox converts tend to be on the defensive is that we (as a Church) are so rarely on the offensive. Our entire "mission plan" tends to revolve more on living an Orthodox life than preaching Orthodoxy to one and all.
That's pretty much it. I was tired of always been on the defensive about my faith. But wow at your story though. I try to calm down any debate/argument if I forsee it becoming a shouting match.
Unfortunately, some people can't be calmed down- they are so certain that they are right that any disagreement means you have to be either lying or stupid.


Oh i know.  They come to my door.  Once I told em they were just another one of the thousands of branches of protestantism to me...  Probably wasnt the nicest thing, but they interrupted my Sunday afternoon football watching/nap time.

Nicer than some of my stock replies. A particularly persistent Mormon, upon my telling him I wasn't interested, asked "Well, have you ever read the book of Mormon?"

"Yes. It's the most boring sci-fi ever."
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2012, 10:57:26 PM »

Unfortunately, some people can't be calmed down- they are so certain that they are right that any disagreement means you have to be either lying or stupid.
You know I really do thank God I am not around the evangelical fundamentalists. I would lose my mind, if it's not already lost by now.

Quote
Nicer than some of my stock replies. A particularly persistent Mormon, upon my telling him I wasn't interested, asked "Well, have you ever read the book of Mormon?"

"Yes. It's the most boring sci-fi ever."
The most boring plagarised sci-fi ever.
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2012, 11:04:12 PM »


I think a big part of the reason Orthodox converts tend to be on the defensive is that we (as a Church) are so rarely on the offensive. Our entire "mission plan" tends to revolve more on living an Orthodox life than preaching Orthodoxy to one and all.

Thats a good point.  Also, people in the states just arent as familiar with Orthodoxy.  I think when they see something so different than what theyre used to, it automatically raises a red flag.
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2012, 11:10:07 PM »

I don't talk about my faith. I practice it as quietly as possible, and when someone asks me about it, I answer their question and go no further. If anyone becomes argumentative, I brush it off and walk away, making it clear that I'm happy to explain but I won't debate. People catch on quickly, and either just keeping asking questions instead of trying to debate or just leave it alone. I'm fine with that.

I think this is the best way to handle it.  And I actually have gotten better about this. 

And to clarify to everyone once again, I dont argue or fight with people about it.... anymore.  Ha.  Ive gotten really good about just keeping it to myself but it is still frustrating how people seem to assume that were wrong.  (at least thats what it seems sometimes...)

Im perfectly willing to admit that this may still be an attitude issue on my side that I still need to work on.  So if anyone else has dealt with this before and thinks thats it, then please tell me!
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2012, 11:15:23 PM »

The triumphalism in me was very tiring after awhile. I just keep religion to myself at this point, because I swear everytime it is brought up it becomes into an argument.

I actually do the same thing.  But when the discussions do come up, thats when I deal with this stuff.  I never start the discussions, but theres just a certain vibe out there.  Its like im wrong and therefore need to explain myself.  If anything, its the other way around, but I dont think I could ever say that to anyone.  So why do people say it to me?

Wait you mean why do they call you out on supposedly being wrong?



Yes
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2012, 11:19:05 PM »


I think a big part of the reason Orthodox converts tend to be on the defensive is that we (as a Church) are so rarely on the offensive. Our entire "mission plan" tends to revolve more on living an Orthodox life than preaching Orthodoxy to one and all.

Thats a good point.  Also, people in the states just arent as familiar with Orthodoxy.  I think when they see something so different than what theyre used to, it automatically raises a red flag.

That is one thing I've never understood. I can understand the confusion that the Orthodox Church has "denominations" and I can understand the confusion that the Orthodox Church has a "pope" in Constantinople. What I don't get is how Orthodoxy is "so different" than anything else. Certainly it is worlds away from the standard Evangelical cross-denominational services (a few hymns, pass the plate, read a little Bible verse, long sermon, altar call) and there is more pageantry than the lower-church mainline groups. But I've never really seen how Orthodox practice is all that different from the liturgies of the Lutherans, Anglicans (and especially the higher church variants of the two), and Roman Catholics.

Aside from that, the theology is the same, minus a hyper-juridical soteriology. The ecclesiology can be a little slippery at first- one keeps expecting either rigid Roman hierarchy or gooey Anglican fudge only to find that it is softer than the one yet harder than the other. And there is worlds more depth to explore, but a quick glance at Orthodoxy certainly doesn't reveal that. But "different"? In a country where you still have snake handlers and Oneness Pentecostals I have never seen how Orthodoxy could be the one labeled "strange".
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2012, 11:22:55 PM »

Are there any other converts who have dealt with the following?  If so, what helped you deal with it?

I have some friends who arent super comfortable with my conversion.  I have an episcopalian buddy in particular who isnt cool with it.  Hes one of my best friends, who I dont get to see very often anymore, but when we do hang out, we always have the best conversations.  Hes super smart and knows his stuff too when it comes to Church history, theology, etc.  Obviously, we have some disagreements, but why do I have to be the one whos pinned down answering all the questions?  Its not just him.  It happens with family too.  Its like we have to explain why we do the things we do. Example: "why do you have confession? thats not in the Bible..."

I dont respond harshly or hatefully, but it starts to wear on you a little bit.  I just wanna say, "No... why dont YOU answer ME this!! Why dont you have confession anymore?"

Anyone dealt with this?  Do I just need to suck it up and get used to it?  I dont mean to sound like a jerk.  Just need to vent and make sure im not the only one out there whos ever felt like this.

Pray for me.
It can be difficult.  The easiest way I found to deal with it is simply to say, “My priest can explain it better than I can and I am too new to try to help you understand.”

My normal reply when asked why I converted is to say this:

Suppose you really believed something, anything, it really doesn’t matter, but one day someone proves to you that you have always been wrong and displays what you consider to be indisputable evidence to support his claim and reveal yours to be faulty.  Will you still believe or will you alter your views to match the evidence?  You would believe the truth, right?  Well, that is what happened to me.  Enough proof was provided for me to, as uncomfortable as it was, to see the truth and accept it.
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2012, 11:26:45 PM »

Are there any other converts who have dealt with the following?  If so, what helped you deal with it?

I have some friends who arent super comfortable with my conversion.  I have an episcopalian buddy in particular who isnt cool with it.  Hes one of my best friends, who I dont get to see very often anymore, but when we do hang out, we always have the best conversations.  Hes super smart and knows his stuff too when it comes to Church history, theology, etc.  Obviously, we have some disagreements, but why do I have to be the one whos pinned down answering all the questions?  Its not just him.  It happens with family too.  Its like we have to explain why we do the things we do. Example: "why do you have confession? thats not in the Bible..."

I dont respond harshly or hatefully, but it starts to wear on you a little bit.  I just wanna say, "No... why dont YOU answer ME this!! Why dont you have confession anymore?"

Anyone dealt with this?  Do I just need to suck it up and get used to it?  I dont mean to sound like a jerk.  Just need to vent and make sure im not the only one out there whos ever felt like this.

Pray for me.

Ask them questions.
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« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2012, 11:26:55 PM »


I think a big part of the reason Orthodox converts tend to be on the defensive is that we (as a Church) are so rarely on the offensive. Our entire "mission plan" tends to revolve more on living an Orthodox life than preaching Orthodoxy to one and all.

Thats a good point.  Also, people in the states just arent as familiar with Orthodoxy.  I think when they see something so different than what theyre used to, it automatically raises a red flag.

That is one thing I've never understood. I can understand the confusion that the Orthodox Church has "denominations" and I can understand the confusion that the Orthodox Church has a "pope" in Constantinople. What I don't get is how Orthodoxy is "so different" than anything else. Certainly it is worlds away from the standard Evangelical cross-denominational services (a few hymns, pass the plate, read a little Bible verse, long sermon, altar call) and there is more pageantry than the lower-church mainline groups. But I've never really seen how Orthodox practice is all that different from the liturgies of the Lutherans, Anglicans (and especially the higher church variants of the two), and Roman Catholics.

Aside from that, the theology is the same, minus a hyper-juridical soteriology. The ecclesiology can be a little slippery at first- one keeps expecting either rigid Roman hierarchy or gooey Anglican fudge only to find that it is softer than the one yet harder than the other. And there is worlds more depth to explore, but a quick glance at Orthodoxy certainly doesn't reveal that. But "different"? In a country where you still have snake handlers and Oneness Pentecostals I have never seen how Orthodoxy could be the one labeled "strange".

Agreed.  A lot of the people that Im friends with, excluding my episcopalian friend here, attend churches without a formal liturgy.  Its more like 3 rock songs, (and the big churches here pay good bands, so the music, for what it is, sounds good) a 45 min sermon, some announcements, then leave.  And if theyre kicking off a new sermon series, there may be a funny video or something between the band and sermon.  These churches have staff positions like "producers", "directors", etc.  Also people riding fancy cameras.  haha.

So being compared to that, yes Orthodoxy looks extremely different.  But the Anglican Church I used to attend pretty much wishes it was Orthodox.  It doesnt look much different.  Its certainly not much different theologically.
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« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2012, 11:27:58 PM »

Are there any other converts who have dealt with the following?  If so, what helped you deal with it?

I have some friends who arent super comfortable with my conversion.  I have an episcopalian buddy in particular who isnt cool with it.  Hes one of my best friends, who I dont get to see very often anymore, but when we do hang out, we always have the best conversations.  Hes super smart and knows his stuff too when it comes to Church history, theology, etc.  Obviously, we have some disagreements, but why do I have to be the one whos pinned down answering all the questions?  Its not just him.  It happens with family too.  Its like we have to explain why we do the things we do. Example: "why do you have confession? thats not in the Bible..."

I dont respond harshly or hatefully, but it starts to wear on you a little bit.  I just wanna say, "No... why dont YOU answer ME this!! Why dont you have confession anymore?"

Anyone dealt with this?  Do I just need to suck it up and get used to it?  I dont mean to sound like a jerk.  Just need to vent and make sure im not the only one out there whos ever felt like this.

Pray for me.

Ask them questions.

Simple, yet wise.
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« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2012, 11:28:41 PM »

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Suppose you really believed something, anything, it really doesn’t matter, but one day someone proves to you that you have always been wrong and displays what you consider to be indisputable evidence to support his claim and reveal yours to be faulty.  Will you still believe or will you alter your views to match the evidence?  You would believe the truth, right?  Well, that is what happened to me.  Enough proof was provided for me to, as uncomfortable as it was, to see the truth and accept it.

Yup.  Thats accurate too.
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« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2012, 11:48:24 PM »

It becomes really tiring. Why should we have to be on the defensive? For crying out loud, we are the original Church! I should be asking them why they don't venerate Ikons or don't worship liturgically! The worst are Mormons and Evangelical Protestants. Well, actually the Evangelical Protestants. I consider Mormonism to be a strange Evangelical offshoot of Protestantism.

I think the problem is that these Churches are so casual and modern that people immediately judge any liturgical Church as being evil or polluted by the 'traditions of man', which, I find rather strange. How can you accuse us of being weird when you have Pentecostals rolling on the floor speaking gibberish like they are schizophrenic or something?

I notice that ironically when it comes to theology, people are more open to Orthodoxy about these elements then they are about the externals. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't they be less concerned about the externals and more so about the theology? But from what I have observed, they aren't. Other than Sola Scripture, most American Evangelical Christians don't give a heck about theology and will listen to the Orthodox perspective. Sola Scriptura is pretty much the only theological position that they will not abandon.

I've noticed that if I discuss Orthodox theology with Evangelicals before precisely explaining to them that I am Orthodox, they seem fascinated by it and we do not run into many problems until it comes to Sola Scriptura. They're not even as dogmatic about 'faith-alone' salvation anymore from what I have observed. But, the moment they find out I am Orthodox and see that it is liturgical, they immediately go on the offensive and see Orthodoxy as a strange cult that 'worships idols' and makes us act liturgical in Church.

This is not just with Orthodoxy. Every liturgical Church suffers from this no matter what their theology is like. Other than Sola Scriptura and Faith Alone salvation, Protestantism is much more similar to Roman Catholicism than they would like to admit. Except, America has become so anti-Roman Catholic that people immediately hate the Roman Catholic Church because of the liturgical elements of worship. Hell, I've even met Protestants that see Lutheranism as being evil because it is semi-liturgical even though they practically have the same theology and they are the ones who started Protestantism!

Only non-liturgical Christians give me problems about my Orthodoxy, like the standard American Evangelical Protestant/Baptist, whereas I have never had any problems with any liturgical type of Christian whether they were Roman Catholic, Lutheran or Anglican/Episcopian. In fact, many of them seem to be even closer to me the moment I tell them that I am Orthodox. It is like they find it more comforting knowing that they are around another liturgical Christian and don't have to worry about having their religion bashed like they would by a non-liturgical Christian. Heck, in many instances I find myself in the presence of both Roman Catholics and Lutherans and all of us are laughing at contemporary, non-liturgical forms of Christianity. We're all a minority so we all get along pretty well.

The only thing that sometimes bothers me about other liturgical Christians is the false Ecumenism I see among some Roman Catholics. My best friend's father being an example. We love to laugh at Protestantism together and bash Reformed theology and practices (rudely in front of his Reformed daughter) but then he also goes on to say that me and him are the same and that EOs and RCs are really no different at all and that we could worship together and take Communion together. And the entire time I am thinking in my head that while we are more similar with each other than we are Protestantism, there are still some significant issues that need to be addressed before we are really 'the same' and can take Communion together.
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2012, 02:23:13 AM »

It becomes really tiring. Why should we have to be on the defensive? For crying out loud, we are the original Church! I should be asking them why they don't venerate Ikons or don't worship liturgically! The worst are Mormons and Evangelical Protestants. Well, actually the Evangelical Protestants. I consider Mormonism to be a strange Evangelical offshoot of Protestantism.

I think the problem is that these Churches are so casual and modern that people immediately judge any liturgical Church as being evil or polluted by the 'traditions of man', which, I find rather strange. How can you accuse us of being weird when you have Pentecostals rolling on the floor speaking gibberish like they are schizophrenic or something?

It's not really up to us to berate people with our faith. The reason so many people dislike Christianity across all its interpretations is because of attitudes of the faithful in their pride are simply off-putting. When you put down or laugh at one sect within Christianity, you're not doing the entire religion any favors. It's just another reason for those who do not believe to distance themselves further and you certainly don't make those outside the fold of Orthodoxy feel as if Orthodoxy is any different from the other sects in terms of pride. How is your attitude any different from those that you're criticizing?
We believe we're right. That should be enough.  Someone can tell you all day long that Communion is only symbolic, one must wear blessed underwear or speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit to which that everyone on the planet is entitled, but at the end of the day, such open derision on our part is not only useless, it's damaging. We do not need to cause pain on another Christian's part in order to prove our belief in Jesus is correct.
I've not met a person yet who's been converted because they were told that they were acting like a schizophrenic in their belief of communication with God or anything of the like.

My advice to the OP is to do your best to disengage conversations like that. Religion's private--simple as that. If you don't want to discuss it, don't feel compelled to, especially if people are going after you in a spirit of anger or hate. You have the right to tell people "no, I do not want to discuss my personal beliefs with you. I respect your opinions, but I disagree with you." End of discussion. My mother (who is in the charismatic movement) will put her beliefs out there as fact and I've long since learned not to engage with it, even when asked my opinion. It always ends up with my faith berated and my mother's pride hugely inflated and both of us angry. Not worth it. I choose to live my life as an example and that is more than enough.
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2012, 02:36:33 AM »

Why should we have to be on the defensive?

Good question. Why would you choose to be defensive? (and yes, it is a choice--a bad one).
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2012, 03:08:13 AM »

The triumphalism in me was very tiring after awhile. I just keep religion to myself at this point, because I swear everytime it is brought up it becomes into an argument.

Mormons are the worst to talk to about religion.

Same for me...
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« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2012, 03:14:11 AM »

I don't talk about my faith. I practice it as quietly as possible, and when someone asks me about it, I answer their question and go no further. If anyone becomes argumentative, I brush it off and walk away, making it clear that I'm happy to explain but I won't debate. People catch on quickly, and either just keeping asking questions instead of trying to debate or just leave it alone. I'm fine with that.

And that's what I swore to do.
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« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2012, 03:15:14 AM »

This is probably a dumb thing to say, but...if you don't like doing that, then why not stop doing that? St. Peter tells us that we must be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is within us, but I wouldn't think that this means to be defensive in the arguing sense, since the tail end of that verse (1 Peter 3:15) tells us to be meek about it. So why not calmly say your piece and leave the naysayers to their naysaying? Believe me, there are many, many (many!) times in which I am very tempted to react defensively to negative reactions to my faith (especially when they come from people like my own father, because Orthodoxy conflicts with the anti-Christian cult he is in...Lord have mercy), but whenever I have done so, I've always been the loser as a result. Just keep doing what you're doing, pray for those who unfairly malign you and the faith, and move on. It's hard, it may feel like you're being weak-willed or otherwise not standing up for the truth, but in many instances it is the best thing to do (and if you're anything like me, when you're dealing with people close to you you have to be reminded that you are not the best judge of when you should abandon this principle!). Shake the dust from your feet and move on. Prayer is always better than argument.
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« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2012, 03:16:49 AM »

I'd like to be on the defensive once in a while, but no one I know really cares what denomination you are as long as you're Christian.
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« Reply #30 on: July 06, 2012, 03:26:27 AM »

Ironically, all of my friends are staunch atheists, except two who are Muslims. I never had an argument with these two ; but with the atheists, I did... And I knew before it even starts that it would be a fruitless "debate"... I mean, he will never make me change about Christianity, nor I will make him change about his atheism... so it's pointless ; that's why I try to avoid debate as much as possible... or I just end a potential debate by a simple answer and I clearly say that the following debate would be fruitless for both of us.
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« Reply #31 on: July 06, 2012, 03:54:36 AM »

It may be because I am a former Mormon, but the worst experiences I ever had discussing religion have been with fundamentalist evangelical Christians.
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« Reply #32 on: July 06, 2012, 03:58:56 AM »

It's hard, it may feel like you're being weak-willed or otherwise not standing up for the truth

It teaches you humility too  Cheesy
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« Reply #33 on: July 06, 2012, 04:11:50 AM »

It may be because I am a former Mormon, but the worst experiences I ever had discussing religion have been with fundamentalist evangelical Christians.
I'm just one state away from their Mecca. I don't hear too many fundamentalist evangelical Christians, thank God.
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« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2012, 07:15:31 AM »

There is something else to consider.  Sometimes, though it may be rare, the person asking questions is actually seeking answers.  They may sense something is amiss in their current denomination and in their heart, have a longing for the Church.  At first they may seem harsh, but time will tell.  I know I was once one of these people and went looking for the Apostolic Church with no idea where to find her.  The patience and kindness of Orthodox Christians was a blessing.
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« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2012, 10:03:42 AM »

There is something else to consider.  Sometimes, though it may be rare, the person asking questions is actually seeking answers.  They may sense something is amiss in their current denomination and in their heart, have a longing for the Church.  At first they may seem harsh, but time will tell.  I know I was once one of these people and went looking for the Apostolic Church with no idea where to find her.  The patience and kindness of Orthodox Christians was a blessing.

This is true.  I have discussed with a couple people who are genuinely asking questions.  I have a friend whos evangelical, but hes pretty open minded when it comes to this sort of thing.  Weve had calm, civil, fruitful discussions before.  When I think of my in-laws though, its not the same.  A couple years ago when I first realized I wasnt a protestant, something about the RC church came up in discussion with them.  As baptists, they arent huge fans of Catholics, but I was quick to defend the Catholics at that point bc I thought I might become one.  Now, I havent even told them about my conversion to Orthodoxy yet because I dont feel Im ready.  I need to get even better about responding gently to questions or attacks before I tell them.  Ha!

But even when I was defending Catholics... Why do baptists think that Catholics owe them an explanation?

After sleeping on all of this, I think I need to continue to work on my own heart.  I guess I should be glad that people are asking me about Orthodoxy, even if it is at times in a condescending way.
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« Reply #36 on: July 06, 2012, 10:21:53 AM »

Just in response to your first posting, I find it laughable that an Episcopalian talks about what isnt in the bible.

PP
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« Reply #37 on: July 06, 2012, 10:27:12 AM »

Just in response to your first posting, I find it laughable that an Episcopalian talks about what isnt in the bible.

PP

To clarify, the confession example didnt come from my episcopalian friend.  I think hes pretty pro-confession.  But thats a common criticism I hear from orther evangelicals or family members.
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« Reply #38 on: July 06, 2012, 03:28:49 PM »

It may be because I am a former Mormon, but the worst experiences I ever had discussing religion have been with fundamentalist evangelical Christians.

That's weird because they seem almost identical to each other at least in terms of externals. They are both heavy right-wingers, dream of rural, 19th century America, see liturgical Christianity as being evil and allow a single book to govern their faith. Both are annoying and aggressively trying to convert people etc.
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« Reply #39 on: July 06, 2012, 03:29:33 PM »

Just in response to your first posting, I find it laughable that an Episcopalian talks about what isnt in the bible.

PP

To clarify, the confession example didnt come from my episcopalian friend.  I think hes pretty pro-confession.  But thats a common criticism I hear from orther evangelicals or family members.

Sad for them because Confession is in fact in the Bible.
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« Reply #40 on: July 06, 2012, 03:51:33 PM »

Ask him why he's in the same church as John Shelby spong, that might do something.
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« Reply #41 on: July 06, 2012, 04:31:25 PM »

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To clarify, the confession example didnt come from my episcopalian friend.  I think hes pretty pro-confession.  But thats a common criticism I hear from orther evangelicals or family members
Oh, sorry. My bad Smiley

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« Reply #42 on: July 07, 2012, 03:32:12 AM »


I just want to ask him why hes a member of a Church that so blatantly disregards 2000 years of Catholic tradition. 

The short answer - politics. 

We can get into all sorts of arguments about what is 'in', or not 'in', the Bible.  For instance, the Trinity is not 'in' the Bible,  Crossing oneself is not 'in' the Bible. If you want to follow this line of thinking to any depth you need to study the patristic fathers.  They argued over this stuff and it's been done to death - literally in many cases. 

The point is - you should follow you own lead from the Holy Spirit and not worry too much about what others may say. 
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« Reply #43 on: July 07, 2012, 08:55:55 AM »

There is something else to consider.  Sometimes, though it may be rare, the person asking questions is actually seeking answers.  They may sense something is amiss in their current denomination and in their heart, have a longing for the Church.  At first they may seem harsh, but time will tell.  I know I was once one of these people and went looking for the Apostolic Church with no idea where to find her.  The patience and kindness of Orthodox Christians was a blessing.

This is true.  I have discussed with a couple people who are genuinely asking questions.  I have a friend whos evangelical, but hes pretty open minded when it comes to this sort of thing.  Weve had calm, civil, fruitful discussions before.  When I think of my in-laws though, its not the same.  A couple years ago when I first realized I wasnt a protestant, something about the RC church came up in discussion with them.  As baptists, they arent huge fans of Catholics, but I was quick to defend the Catholics at that point bc I thought I might become one.  Now, I havent even told them about my conversion to Orthodoxy yet because I dont feel Im ready.  I need to get even better about responding gently to questions or attacks before I tell them.  Ha!

But even when I was defending Catholics... Why do baptists think that Catholics owe them an explanation?

After sleeping on all of this, I think I need to continue to work on my own heart.  I guess I should be glad that people are asking me about Orthodoxy, even if it is at times in a condescending way.

I should add it will be clear in a short period of time (mostly likely) if the person is seriously interested (even if they don’t know it yet) or if they are simply being combative.  If they are just trying to argue, disengage.  Far more than not will and it just isn’t worth it.  Many Protestants just want to prove you are wrong.  It can be difficult to tell at first which is which; however, in all things be obedient to God.
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« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2012, 09:05:33 AM »

Obey God and stay true to the traditions. With that, all discussions can be done in a honourable way.
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« Reply #45 on: July 13, 2012, 10:25:24 AM »

I don't even bother. Arguing with people really just turns off any openness they might have to becoming Orthodox themselves. If it comes to an altercation I'd say something, but it's not something I'd ever bring up intentionally.

Don't throw your pearls before swine. The truth needs no defense.
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« Reply #46 on: July 13, 2012, 12:18:03 PM »

I've found hard questions useful. Sometimes I have to say, I don't know exactly, but I will try to find out. Then I go find out and get back to them…if they are genuinely interested and not just trying to find holes in your reasoning.

With respect to some lines of argument, if the conversation is not avoidable without offense, especially certain uses of the Scripture (that's not in the bible), if it is and I know of the passage, i reference it, if indeed it isn't per se but is firmly within the Tradition and the purview of those things committed to the authority of the Church I say it is the Tradition. They generally reply about traditions of man supplanting the commandments of God, and then I can direct them to St. Paul and his admonition to respect the Tradition passed down in the Church, and the passage about the Church being the pillar and ground of all truth.  The idea is not to play on their ball field by their rules…get the ball on your field. Then you can address the Bible within the context of the Tradition. This way you can show them there is a sound ancient alternative perspective on the way they have approached things.

When it starts turning into "gotcha" style debate/argument…that's the time I back out as gracefully as possible.

As for Mormons, I've not encountered a lot, but my conversations with them have been more pleasant and conversational. I once had an LDS boss…and quoting St. Athanasius to him softened his "defenses" considerably, "God became man that man might become god."  This sounds on the surface similar to one of their distinctive beliefs…though deep down it isn't…still it defused the tenseness and readiness to man the bulwarks.  He felt free to ask questions without me feeling obligated to attack his faiths heterodoxies in the process in order to put forward the faith of the Church. Actually in becoming Orthodox I became a bit more sympathetic to them at a human level…I found myself on the receiving end of evangelical "witnessing." Their mission trips and their rigors to demand a certain acesis. They are faced with disdain and misunderstanding outside their home cultural base…so there are points of contact…ways to see them as human beings who want to follow Christ by such lights (I know) as they have. I could be wrong, but the enabling of most conversions from the LDS that are not the outworking of an individual's own personal journey and search must involve real friendship…and opportunity to see one's life as it is lived in the Faith once and for all delivered unto the saints.

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« Reply #47 on: July 16, 2012, 10:52:18 AM »

I have given up too.  I just try to live my Orthodox life, however badly.  If people genuinely ask, I do my best to answer.  But the pride stemming from one-upmanship arguments and the frustration caused by entertaining people's constant criticisms are detrimental to my own spiritual path and will not convert anybody, so I don't engage in them anymore.

When I first made it known in my former Anglican parish that I would be leaving for the Orthodox Church, the organist sat me down after choir practice one evening and grilled me for explanations, trying to persuade me of why I was making the wrong decision.  His arguments actually spoke volumes about his own reasons for being in a church and showed how he could not possibly understand my own.  He said that I did so much in the parish that I had a responsibility to stay.  He said that sometimes he had felt like leaving but that he couldn't abandon the parish.  I said that the parish had survived for over 125 years before I joined it and that I did not think it would suddenly collapse if I were to leave.

He told me that I had flitted from church to church (I had passed between a number of Anglican parishes in my journey) and that I clearly didn't know what I wanted.  He asked me why I was joining something Russian, and said that he went to Russia and was horrified at all of the costly decoration in churches there.  When I answered that Russianness had nothing to do with it but that I had to belong to the Church, he said that I could belong to the church I was already in and that there isn't anything specifically Russian about the Church, (completely misrepresenting my reasons, of course).

When I explained that it was because I had explored Christian doctrine and I could not see it any other way than the Church of England had separated itself from a number of Christian beliefs and that I just couldn't accept it as part of the Church any longer, he laughed in my face.  He said that I could stay where I was and still believe my Orthodox beliefs, then went on to explain that, in his nearly 50 years in that parish, he had seen many clergy come and go, and had heard many different and sometimes conflicting things being preached, but that the Church of England could embrace it all and that I was no different.  He seemed to be under the impression that this was a good thing.

The conversation went on, while he continued to talk at me.

I don't know what he thought he was doing but by the end of that conversation, I was not re-assessing my reasons for becoming Orthodox, I was not lamenting leaving the Church of England or my parish any more than missing some of the people, I did not feel that any of the reasons that I was leaving had even been touched on but that I had instead been subjected to a barrage of misrepresentation and nonsense.  I felt frustrated, upset, belittled, and bullied, and I was definitely not encouraged to stay in any parish to which this man belonged.  If he was trying to get me to stay, I think that his attempt was an utter and complete failure.

For a while afterwards, I regretted not being more forceful, and not being more articulate - having the answers at my fingertips so I could "win" the argument - but this was now some years ago, and I realise that rising to the bait from people like that is simply not worth it.  Accept their criticism with as much patience as possible, then go away and pray for them.  If they ask out of genuine interest, answer them with love.  Otherwise, it is best to just live your Orthodox life and let that be the witness to the faith that they see.  You never know what will happen years down the line.

I know of an Orthodox lady who converted some years ago from an evangelical tradition to which her whole family had belonged.  None of them would go to her chrismation, she received criticism whenever something of significance happened in parish life and she wanted to share it.  She decided to just quietly live her Orthodox life and treat them with love.  She has a great nephew who was a very sick baby and she and I took him to a church when the Kursk Root icon was visiting.  One of her sisters, (the baby's grandmother) came with us and refused to come into the church.  Now, another sister, who was equally hostile towards this lady's Orthodox faith for years has suddenly started going with her to visit an Orthodox hieromonk for discussions about matters of faith, they pray the Hours together in church, and she says that she wants to come to church at least once a month.  She is reading about Orthodoxy, and has apologised to her sister for being so cold to her when she embraced the Faith.

From St Seraphim of Sarov:

Quote
Acquire a peaceful spirit and thousands around you will be saved.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 10:53:05 AM by Subdeacon Michael » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: July 16, 2012, 11:16:07 AM »

Thanks for sharing your story, Michael.  That is good advice and your situation sounds somewhat similar to mine.  Its fairly ironic that all of that came from an Anglican since it seems like the Anglican church is most likely to come back to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #49 on: July 16, 2012, 11:17:04 AM »

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When it starts turning into "gotcha" style debate/argument…that's the time I back out as gracefully as possible.

This is what I need to start doing more often.
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« Reply #50 on: July 16, 2012, 11:43:31 AM »

ISuppose you really believed something, anything, it really doesn’t matter, but one day someone proves to you that you have always been wrong and displays what you consider to be indisputable evidence to support his claim and reveal yours to be faulty.  Will you still believe or will you alter your views to match the evidence?  You would believe the truth, right?  Well, that is what happened to me.  Enough proof was provided for me to, as uncomfortable as it was, to see the truth and accept it.


Ooooh, I love this. Would you mind if I used it too?
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« Reply #51 on: July 16, 2012, 11:49:27 AM »

ISuppose you really believed something, anything, it really doesn’t matter, but one day someone proves to you that you have always been wrong and displays what you consider to be indisputable evidence to support his claim and reveal yours to be faulty.  Will you still believe or will you alter your views to match the evidence?  You would believe the truth, right?  Well, that is what happened to me.  Enough proof was provided for me to, as uncomfortable as it was, to see the truth and accept it.


Ooooh, I love this. Would you mind if I used it too?

Ive already used it!
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« Reply #52 on: July 16, 2012, 12:51:57 PM »

ISuppose you really believed something, anything, it really doesn’t matter, but one day someone proves to you that you have always been wrong and displays what you consider to be indisputable evidence to support his claim and reveal yours to be faulty.  Will you still believe or will you alter your views to match the evidence?  You would believe the truth, right?  Well, that is what happened to me.  Enough proof was provided for me to, as uncomfortable as it was, to see the truth and accept it.


Ooooh, I love this. Would you mind if I used it too?

Not at all.   Grin
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« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2012, 05:47:30 PM »

I do't know if this is along the lines of the original post. However I can tell you what drives me nuts. It's when people challenge Orthodox Christianity by correcting errors that we don't make. I think my favorite is when people say things like "...you know, you can't earn your way into Heaven by doing good deeds..." to this I want to scream "DUh!!!! We never said you could numbn**s!!!!"
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« Reply #54 on: July 16, 2012, 06:03:42 PM »

I do't know if this is along the lines of the original post. However I can tell you what drives me nuts. It's when people challenge Orthodox Christianity by correcting errors that we don't make. I think my favorite is when people say things like "...you know, you can't earn your way into Heaven by doing good deeds..." to this I want to scream "DUh!!!! We never said you could numbn**s!!!!"

And most of their questions/assertions come from the last youtube video "The Bible exposed" or some report about Early Christianity and similarities with other cults ?  Cheesy
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« Reply #55 on: July 16, 2012, 06:09:10 PM »

I do't know if this is along the lines of the original post. However I can tell you what drives me nuts. It's when people challenge Orthodox Christianity by correcting errors that we don't make. I think my favorite is when people say things like "...you know, you can't earn your way into Heaven by doing good deeds..." to this I want to scream "DUh!!!! We never said you could numbn**s!!!!"

Oh, I love things like that in discussions, not necessarily about faith but about various things.  In debate, that's an example of a logical fallacy.  It's called a strawman argument, and is employed to give the appearance of successfully prevailing over an opponent's argument without actually doing any such thing.

Instead of deconstructing and dealing with your actual position on something, your opponent presents a misrepresentation of your position and instead argues against that misrepresentation.  If it is done cleverly enough, other parties in the conversation/the audience may fall for it and think that the other person has won the debate.  However, if you call your opponent on it, and point out that this is a strawman, it causes the ploy to backfire because the only reason somebody would need to argue a strawman is if he does not have any real argument against your actual position.

It's called a "strawman" because of the way it is often explained.  Let's say you and I are having a fight.  In the middle of the fight, I realise that you're bigger and stronger than I am and there's no way I can win.  But I don't want to be embarrassed in front of my friends, so I make a figure out of straw, dress it up in clothes and a hat that look like your clothes and hat, and I beat up this strawman and claim to have won the fight.  To my friends looking on from the distance, it looks as though I have beaten you up but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that the reality is that what I have beaten up is not the real you but a misrepresentation.  I have done you no harm whatsoever because I am not strong enough.

The strawman ploy is the sign of a weak argument and can be easily dismissed.
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'There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy. The church, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.' - St John of Kronstadt
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« Reply #56 on: July 16, 2012, 06:14:36 PM »

I do't know if this is along the lines of the original post. However I can tell you what drives me nuts. It's when people challenge Orthodox Christianity by correcting errors that we don't make. I think my favorite is when people say things like "...you know, you can't earn your way into Heaven by doing good deeds..." to this I want to scream "DUh!!!! We never said you could numbn**s!!!!"

In debate, that's an example of a logical fallacy.  It's called a strawman argument, and is employed to give the appearance of successfully prevailing over an opponent's argument without actually doing any such thing.



Absolutely !

empty questions... Thanks to your post I'll be better at detecting them  Cheesy
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« Reply #57 on: July 16, 2012, 06:16:20 PM »

Try being Coptic Orthodox... Roll Eyes Just answering the question "Are you guys in union with the Pope?" is at least a ten minute discussion, and it usually ends with the other person insisting that we're lying or have somehow grossly misinterpreted very basic Church history (not even the stuff surrounding Chalcedon and its aftermath, on which honorable men can differ!), because of course Rome can't have been the one that has done that, oh no...no way...

I always want to nip these conversations in the bud by advising RCs and Protestants to work on reconciling with one another before trying to approach either the OO or the EO, but that never really gets off the ground because the heterodox often seem to be in some sort of race with one another to the doctrinal and liturgical bottom, which I can't imagine any Orthodox being the least bit interested in joining.

This is one of the many, many reasons why I don't think ecumenical talks should center around establishing Orthodox-RC union. The only talks that seem to even have a realistic goal to me are the OO-EO talks, and I'm not even so sure that "realistic" translates into "achievable", at least not within my lifetime. For the rest, though, consistent exposure to Orthodoxy without argument is worth much more than the patchy, semi-exposure with argument that often comes instead (say, on the internet...{gaffaw chortle sputter}).
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« Reply #58 on: July 17, 2012, 10:08:27 AM »

I do't know if this is along the lines of the original post. However I can tell you what drives me nuts. It's when people challenge Orthodox Christianity by correcting errors that we don't make. I think my favorite is when people say things like "...you know, you can't earn your way into Heaven by doing good deeds..." to this I want to scream "DUh!!!! We never said you could numbn**s!!!!"

Yes!!!! Or the inevitable "y'all worship Mary" or my personal favorite, the "call no man father" pseudo-debate.
See, y'all think I'm argumentative, when you really have no idea how truly saintly and patient I really am when confronted with nonsense like this! Wink
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« Reply #59 on: August 04, 2012, 06:17:58 AM »

It's amazing how many judges surround us. If they really think you did terrible thing, where were they before to stop you in time? Perhaps busy with judging someone else.
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« Reply #60 on: August 04, 2012, 10:17:38 AM »

A professor of mine in a Christian history class rhetorically asked me once, "If you believe the Eucharist to be efficacious, then why don't you take it all the time (as in, multiple times a day or more)?"

I was taken aback because it was out of character from his usual friendliness, and so I didn't know how to respond. But that's the most confrontational anyone's gotten with me. Everyone else I know either doesn't care, or "at least you're going to [a] church."

I feel for those of you that get flak over it.  Undecided
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« Reply #61 on: August 04, 2012, 06:37:28 PM »

I do't know if this is along the lines of the original post. However I can tell you what drives me nuts. It's when people challenge Orthodox Christianity by correcting errors that we don't make. I think my favorite is when people say things like "...you know, you can't earn your way into Heaven by doing good deeds..." to this I want to scream "DUh!!!! We never said you could numbn**s!!!!"
Some protestants believe that works have nothing to do with salvation. When asked about their mention in the bible the best answers I have gotten is that works are "extra credit". Christianity is just a mental exercise for them nothing more.


It is important to remember that when being grilled on our faith it is acceptable to respond with "I don't know". I know it feels weak to say this, but the fact is that anyone with all the answers is the biggest liar out there.
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