I recently read this talk by Fr. Thomas Hopko: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1698562/posts
Is he considered a theological liberal by many in the Eastern Orthodox Church or are his views becoming more common?
Also, I am planning on reading some of his books and I am wondering if they provide an accurate pictuer of Eastern Orthodoxy.
It seems like Fr. Thomas Hopko's talk in 2006 published by the Free Republic has provided some major disinformation. For example, there was a novel written by Bruce Walters in 2011, Russian Sunrise, in which the Russian Orthodox Church comes into unity with the Roman Catholic Church and adds the filioque to the Creed as part of its agreement with the Vatican. Dr. Bruce Walters has gone on many trips to Russia to present his ideas, and it seems like the MP might be listening to Walters and his friends including Father Nicholas Gruner.
Thanks for the reference. It appears that an Episcopal priest wrote the Free Republic article that quoted Father Hopko, who said, among other things:
"Another point for the Orthodox is that we not only have to desire unity, be ready to sacrifice everything essential to have it, to be able to distinguish what is essential from what is not, be able to forgive the past and admit our own sins and concentrate on ourselves, to do practical acts of charity and mercy – but also never, ever to say or do anything that would offend another person unnecessarily
…There are so many ways we can charitably go out of our way to not hurt others… our churches speak about unity, and then every day attack each other in missionary work and so on. Even among the Orthodox, one of our jurisdictions starts a mission and three days later, another jurisdiction starts another mission on the same street. That’s just offensive." (my emphasis).
While I do not agree with others that what you have insinuated is libelous, I ask you if it was truly necessary, as it has offended not only those who like Father Hopko but also those who are under the Patriarchate of Moscow. Indeed, what you insinuated may be offensive to most folks, whether they are fans of Fr Hopko or the MP, just because you brought to the table an insinuation and dropped it there like a stink bomb.
That said, I want to continue with the article in the Free Republic. I have a feeling that the offending passages are the ones that call for the Orthodox to be flexible, such as:
"Another point for the Orthodox is that we not only have to desire unity, be ready to sacrifice everything essential to have it, to be able to distinguish what is essential from what is not, be able to forgive the past and admit our own sins and concentrate on ourselves, to do practical acts of charity and mercy"
"So Orthodox need to be ready to go the extra mile. Jesus said, “If they ask for your coat, give them your shirt. If they ask you to go one mile, go two.” So our attitude has to be always toward bending over backwards, so to speak, to do the thing that will build up unity rather than give offense or cause hard feelings."
I frankly think that he made a mistake in saying "(we have to) be ready to sacrifice everything essential to have (unity)." This must have been a slip of the tongue, because the very next phrase is "to be able to distinguish what is essential from what is not": why make the distinction at all if we are to sacrifice essentials? So, the question here is what is essential and what is not? If one thinks that everything is essential we shall have more great schisms. like the unfortunate Old Believers one.
The point remains, however, that Father Hopko is essentially correct. To quote him from the beginning of his talk, "When people ask me, for example, why the Orthodox jurisdictions in America are not united, the answer is very clear: because our leaders don’t want it. If they wanted it, we would have had it yesterday. There is nothing stopping them… you may have to suffer a lot. You may have to give up some things: power, pre-eminence, prominence, property, possessions, prestige, positions, privilege and pleasure. We’re not ready to give up those things because of pride, passion and prejudice. Forget it. There’s not going to be any unity. That’s what divides people generally, and it is certainly what divides churches…"