Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Thanks for asking,
Not that I'm disagreeing with what you are saying, but there are a couple of points of debate on what you said.
You asked "Why do you trust the Bible any more than the Church" and "The Church is the source of the bible".
Please understand I mean no disrespect when I say this. The Eastern Orthodox church IS NOT the source of the bible any more than the Roman Catholic or Oriental Orthodox are the source of the bible. NONE of these churches even closely resemble the worship practices of the early guys. They all claim to be the "source" of the bible, as they "absorb them" on their own. They staked a claim on it despite several schisms and controversies, and the strongest won. All claim the original, all have succession.
The oldest manuscripts of the "older guys" are only found in the Church, not the synagogue. Think about that for a second. The Church copied, translated, distributed, and preserved the Biblical texts and commentaries, and hence is the source. This is archaeology, not philosophy. If there are questions about the Bible, they belong to the Church, be the etymological or spiritual, because the text belongs to the Church where it comes from.
I'm not trusting the church honestly (and I say this humbly) for a combination of the issues I've presented on this forum. (Such a
s the Father Master issue being the TWO things we were told NOT to call religious leaders of significance yet those VERY TWO WORDS of ALL the words that could have been chosen, were exactly the ones used and made justified by the church). I can't trust the church over the scriptures, when the church is not following the scriptures. Again, it sounds blunt, but I'm trying to be humble and respectful about this. Just like "Keep the Sabbath day holy" then the church says "yeah but......". "Do not make images of anything on earth or in heaven" and the church says "yeah but...."
How can you trust the Bible out of blind faith and not the Church? It is a paradox. The Bible is honestly just a book outside of the Grace of the Church, almost empty words. If you are trusting the Bible, can't you see that you are really trusting the Church where the Bible comes from? Your issues with Church politics are valid, but you can't hardly say that Bible contradicts the Church, rather the Chuch perfect explains these matters such as priests called fathers, sabbaths and passovers and atonements and sacrifices and circumcisions an all such prescriptions of the Law. If you read things in the Bible and they trouble you one way or the other, then the Church is the answer. If you don't like the Church's answer, that is a matter of prayer, of the spiritual maturity and a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit to trust in Grace. Believe me, there are plenty of things I also don't like in the Church, but the Church changes us, we don't change the Church. The Church is a spiritual hospital, you don't run into an emergency room or a post-op recovery room and start judging people too harshly in the weakness of their healing. Perhaps, you need to spend some time praying in the Church to find that same healing? I can only give you my own testimony, I read the Bible deeply for a decade before I ever even stepped into an Orthodox Church, and the only place to heal the pain of the human heart has been the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Church.
See, this is the crux of my point. If you have issues with your faith in the Church, you need to earnestly and at every instance take this in the heart to prayer. You need God to sort it out. The Church is not a matter of rationality or reasoning, it is an act of the Holy Spirit. Folks are only there because of the Holy Spirit. We don't trust the history out of blind faith or obedience to historical continuity, rather, God speaks to our hearts, and so we trust in God, especially when He brings us towards His Church. Again, if you have issues with the Church, you need to take them in faith into prayer, but not by leaving the Church. If you have issues with a particular parish that is fine to leave, but leaving the Church in general is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
HabteSelassie, God bless you with your well thought out points.
There are not arguments I have with your points, but food for thoughts about your points. The ancient scriptures from the "old guys", can easily be in the possession of the church without those men agreeing with the church itself. Remember, the RC church has a huge amount of these ancient texts as well, along with the Muslims and Jews.
Also we have to consider the nature and intent of the documents compared to what we have today and also the understandings of the authors of those documents, compared to what is understood today.
I'll give you an example. When the Untied States constitution was written, slavery was legal and many of the owners of slaves did not have moral objections to it. However today we believe it is wrong and illegal. Is the country the same country as it was when the constitution was written? I believe it is very different in many ways. (But that would delve into politics out of this section). Some changes can be for the better, some for the worse.
The founder of Christianity was our God. The apostles were Jews, thought like Jews, and were from Israel. They understood Jewish customs, and probably spoke in both Aramaic and Hebrew while our savior was here. Afterwards they spoke in many tongues.
Their churches were held in homes, catacombs, graves, caves, and hidden places. They had many Jewish customs in their worship as well, including holding the 7th as Sabbath.
Years pass, (lots of history). Constantine calls together Nicea, where fights broke out, arguing took place, Eusebius literally writing of Constantine sucking up to him BADLY. These were powerful men, on a leader of a nation. Powerful men who had weird problems in their lives. (Constatines son slept with his mother and he executed them). Just weird funky stuff. (Constantine's sword is a book many should read). Anyway, how do we trust that these leaders had the authority to cast labels such as the "trinity" (not the concept but linguistics), officially cast of the 7th day and make it "Sunday".
As far as the biblical books go, I don't entirely trust their decision either. Clement I for example was left out because it spoke of "lands beyond the ocean". Well we know that exists today.
Anyway, the point is, that customs of the Jews that the very early church used do not entirely exist in Orthodoxy. Some do, but not a lot.
Do I trust a group of powerful men to establish my faith nearly 300 years after the church established, or the examples of those who lost their lives for their faith early on?
I don't doubt the beauty and spiritual richness of the church my brother. I doubt specific actions and things that are involved in the church. Unfortunately, its a complete package - all or none - whole or not. I can't say that I blame the church for this stance, but its unfortunate the way I understand things.
My ideal church would avoid icons, worship as the Orthodox, not place so much emphasis on th politics, stay true to the Eucharist. Simple. Cave/Catacomb like, where my 10% goes towards widows & orphans.
I still try to work my way back into Orthodoxy despite my criticism of the church. There are just things I can't get around.
One of the things I love best about the church are when you find humble monastics, just living a life of simplicity, prayer, and contentedness.
You never know though. I may get sideswiped by some epiphany where things will work out.