Author Topic: Three Popes & a Patriarch & the Impossible task of Orthodox Christian Unity  (Read 903 times)

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Offline theorthodoxchurch

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Offline rakovsky

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Dear Georgy,

I liked your post:
Quote
The mains stream Christian world is behind ecumenical unity. ‘Orthodox Ecumenists’ always emphasizes the need for unity with Rome. Most welcome. In this mad rush, we totally forget inter-orthodox and intra-orthodox unity. Yes, am talking unity among Oriental Orthodox, among Eastern Orthodox and between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. It seems no one care for this. Unity and reconciliation between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches are not a priority at all, neither for the Prelates nor for the faithful. We are ‘beating around’ the bush and we do that very well.

I think that for ecumenical discussions to be fully successful, a combination of factors must be present:
1. The people must be nice, friendly, and patient with each other.
2. They must be open to reconsidering their views
3. They must be also open to reconsidering their Tradition and history
4. They must be able at some level to disagree with their Tradition and think that their founding figures in the division could be very wrong.
5. They must be reasonable and intelligent enough to weigh the arguments and do so in a dispassionate way
6. They have to want to reconcile.
7. Reconciliation has to be a major priority for them.
8. They need to be open with each other.
9. They have to see the major places where their Traditions overlap and agree.
10. They must see where each side brings major value to the discussion and reunion.
11. They cannot consider personal insults or personal attacks a valid part of discussion
12. They must be willing to have long discussions where the same point is addressed many times and looked at in different ways.
13. They must desire to look at the opposite viewpoint
14. They must respect and care about each other
15. They must care about the basic Orthodox approach to Theology and Ecclesiology

This is a long list with many factors, probably there are even more, and humans are far from perfect. Sadly, it is my experience that most people do not meet all of them (maybe even myself at times). What often happens is that after the people discuss the issues enough, they hit a roadblock, and they don't care enough to continue, or else don't revisit their own tenets, or don't do one of the other things.

For my part, I have enjoyed my discussions with you and like how in your book you are able to handle opposing points of view. This comes through in your post above where you take a critical view of the failure of the two churches to reach agreements.

Peace.
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Offline RaphaCam

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I think that for ecumenical discussions to be fully successful, a combination of factors must be present:
1. The people must be nice, friendly, and patient with each other.
2. They must be open to reconsidering their views
3. They must be also open to reconsidering their Tradition and history
4. They must be able at some level to disagree with their Tradition and think that their founding figures in the division could be very wrong.
5. They must be reasonable and intelligent enough to weigh the arguments and do so in a dispassionate way
6. They have to want to reconcile.
7. Reconciliation has to be a major priority for them.
8. They need to be open with each other.
9. They have to see the major places where their Traditions overlap and agree.
10. They must see where each side brings major value to the discussion and reunion.
11. They cannot consider personal insults or personal attacks a valid part of discussion
12. They must be willing to have long discussions where the same point is addressed many times and looked at in different ways.
13. They must desire to look at the opposite viewpoint
14. They must respect and care about each other
15. They must care about the basic Orthodox approach to Theology and Ecclesiology

This is a long list with many factors, probably there are even more, and humans are far from perfect. Sadly, it is my experience that most people do not meet all of them (maybe even myself at times). What often happens is that after the people discuss the issues enough, they hit a roadblock, and they don't care enough to continue, or else don't revisit their own tenets, or don't do one of the other things.
Also, they should see reconciliation not as some political all-in game, but rather as defense of unity of the Holy Orthodox Church. I'll tell you more by PM since we're in a non-contentive forum.
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Offline eddybear

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That list is a big ask! Particularly point 4. I can't see how it is possible to simultaneously believe that the Church is the pillar of the truth, but also disagree with the Tradition of the Church.

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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That list is a big ask! Particularly point 4. I can't see how it is possible to simultaneously believe that the Church is the pillar of the truth, but also disagree with the Tradition of the Church.

I think it's merely disagreeing with a particular view of what tradition is, not disagreeing with tradition itself.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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That list is a big ask! Particularly point 4. I can't see how it is possible to simultaneously believe that the Church is the pillar of the truth, but also disagree with the Tradition of the Church.

I don't think the list was meant to apply to all parties equally.
How can you be so incarnationally constipated?

Don't forget about oc.net's women ;)

Can we have one thread where it doesn't devolve into how many people are hot for Mor?

Offline rakovsky

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That list is a big ask! Particularly point 4. I can't see how it is possible to simultaneously believe that the Church is the pillar of the truth, but also disagree with the Tradition of the Church.
Eddy,
Yes, the list is a huge Ask. But there is no way to get around it, and there are many proofs of its truthfulness. For example, it's a well known problem in general that many people are not able to discuss opposite political and religious positions that they hold without feeling resentment toward the other person.

Quote
4. They must be able at some level to disagree with their Tradition and think that their founding figures in the division could be very wrong.
For number four, you can believe that the Church is the pillar of truth, but at some level you have to be able to consider this not so absolute that you cannot disagree with what its Tradition says on the issues being debated.

For example, Church Tradition has many teachings, but many of those are not considered infallible. Therefore, one could still consider the Church the pillar of truth, but its Tradition on an issue to be not so absolute that it's impossible for you to disagree due to the fact that it's a Tradition.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 03:23:27 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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I don't think the list was meant to apply to all parties equally.
If it doesn't apply to both parties equally, then the dialogue becomes far harder.
To start with Number 1, two people can have a reconciliation dialogue when one person comes in to the discussion being personally mean to the other, but the reconciliation's success is much less likely.

Or for Number 4, if one is having dialogue with a Roman Catholic, if the Catholic is not able to consider the possibility that the Magisterium accepted by the bishops is not infallible, then the dialogue becomes more difficult. Or for their part in the EO-OO dialogue, EOs must be able to consider the possibility that Ecumenical councils are not infallible.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 03:25:10 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Three Popes & a Patriarch & the Impossible task of Orthodox Christian Unity
http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/three-popes-a-patriarch-the-impossible-task-of-orthodox-christian-unity/


Quote
Why don’t we have a historic brotherly encounter between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Coptic Pope?

Good question.
How can you be so incarnationally constipated?

Don't forget about oc.net's women ;)

Can we have one thread where it doesn't devolve into how many people are hot for Mor?

Offline Asteriktos

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For the bulk of the Eastern Orthodox, they don’t really see anything to gain from this union, as the hang-up in the Eastern Orthodox is the Roman Church. In modern times, the Oriental Orthodox dialog has just become a plaything between the various Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions.”

Sad, if true... (Matt. 5:21-24)
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." - Dostoevsky

Offline rakovsky

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Quote
For the bulk of the Eastern Orthodox, they don’t really see anything to gain from this union, as the hang-up in the Eastern Orthodox is the Roman Church.
My impression is that the bulk of EOs see some things to be gained from union with the different churches with apostolic claims, hence eg. the OO participation of St. Vladimir's seminaries, or the agreements between Antiochian and Alexandrian EO Churches and the Syriac and Coptic ones; and organizations like St. Alban & St. Sergius (www.sobornost.org) and the establishment of the Western Rite in ROCOR and AOCNA.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline minasoliman

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Three Popes & a Patriarch & the Impossible task of Orthodox Christian Unity
http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/three-popes-a-patriarch-the-impossible-task-of-orthodox-christian-unity/


You're right...our Pope seems to concentrate so much time on Rome, he did not even celebrate a 50th anniversary with the EOs like he did with Rome a couple years ago.

I think Pope Tawadros' ecclesiological beliefs are loose, if not officially, but by practice and desire.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 08:47:06 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline rakovsky

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Well, I think that the best thing would be if the two sides could hash these things out in the way I laid out in the list. I think Georgy is trying to lay groundwork for that and that the joint statements are generally in the right direction and I liked some things that Met. Bishoy said, like when he directly disagreed with Ephesus II's statement that Christ had two natures before the union. I think it was a step forward, not for a reason that OOs actually believed that Christ had the two natures before the union, but because it meant going back and disagreeing with Ephesus II about something. It can take alot to be able to do that. It's because it can be very difficult inside for many people to directly disagree with a part of their Tradition.

So I do see an opportunity to go forward, but it takes things that are very radical for most people. The other thing is that to do it right, it can't just be a matter of revising tradition just out of a desire to reconcile, there has to be a real consideration of the tradition.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline minasoliman

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Well, besides the fact that I never heard Met. Bishoy saying what you said, rather than speaking for OOs, is there anything EOs have done where they "disagreed with a part of their tradition"?
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline rakovsky

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Well, besides the fact that I never heard Met. Bishoy saying what you said, rather than speaking for OOs, is there anything EOs have done where they "disagreed with a part of their tradition"?
Mina,
Thank you for what you said as it required me to check my sources. It turns out that I was mistaken in that Met. Bishoy did not reference Ephesus II when he said that. I confused his statement with Fr. Peter Farrington's.

Fr. Peter Farrington wrote about Ephesus II:
Quote
The council then heard some of the transcript of Eutyches‟ testimony, especially
where he had said that he worshipped one incarnate nature of God, and that the Lord was of two natures before the union but that he confessed one nature after the union.
...
The members of the council affirmed, „We all assent to this – yes, all of us‟.
https://www.academia.edu/6904967/Eutyches_and_the_Oriental_Orthodox_Tradition

What Met. Bishoy said was about the Council of Chalcedon's anathema against those who affirm Eutyches' statement above. Met. Bishoy wrote:
Quote
There was also a statement [by Chalcedon] that anathematized “whoever believed in two natures before the union, and one nature after the union”, by this they meant Eutyches and the doctrine of confusion between the two natures. It is well known that the Non-Chalcedonian side anathematizes whoever believes in “two natures before the union”, because this expression suggests the existence of the humanity before its union with the divinity.
https://www.metroplit-bishoy.org/files/Christology/Christological%20Controversies.doc
So Met. Bishoy was not, as I thought, directly acknowledging that Ephesus II's acceptance of Eutyches' declaration was a mistake.

To answer your second question, as I mentioned earlier, some teachings are not in ecumenical councils or considered infallible but nonetheless could be found in our fathers and major theologians for many centuries. One of these was that OOs held Eutychian mon.physitism and believe that Christ after the incarnation had only a divine nature, with the human nature being swallowed up. Since you and many OO theologians and bishops disagree with this characterization, the joint statement has said that OOs are not Eutychians.

One might criticize me and say that not enough EOs have given up calling OOs Eutychians and followed the joint statements. I don't mean either of these two issues I discussed above to necessarily apply to all OOs and all EOs. I took Remnkemi as accepting that Christ had two natures before the union and as trying to portray Byzantine hymns as having this concept. And I know that there are EO theologians who still use the term mon.physite for OOs.

I was instead referring to positive steps forward when I wrote:
Quote
I think Georgy is trying to lay groundwork for that and that the joint statements are generally in the right direction and I liked some things that Met. Bishoy said, like when he directly disagreed with Ephesus II's statement that Christ had two natures before the union.
Even though Met. Bishoy did not spell out that Ephesus II accepted Eutyches' statement and that the statement turned out to be incorrect, I think it's a step forward. He pointed to a Chalcedonian anathema on those who accepted Eutyches' statement, and he found something to agree with in the Chalcedonian position to that effect.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 02:55:18 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline juliogb

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I would be very happy if I see in my lifetime the unity between EO and OO.

Offline minasoliman

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Rakovsky,

Don't take my message as an insult.  You have an inability to read in between the lines, and everything you read leads to a very obtuse interpretation on your part.  I think you shouldn't discuss these issues because you are incapable of understanding linguistic nuances, and it makes you look like you are one-sided, robotic, and unfair.

Otherwise, you bring about the criticisms that come to you and cause you grief.

God bless you.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline rakovsky

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Hello Mina,
Thank you for your constructive criticism. I want to make my reading, understanding, and writing as effective as possible.

My guess
is that you are referring to the way that I read Eutyches' statement accepted at Ephesus II:
"I believe that Christ had two natures before the union, and one nature after the union".

Trying to read through the lines like you said, I can guess that Eutyches might not have meant that Christ had divinity and humanity before the union, when he took on humanity.

Was that something that you had in mind when you said that I was not reading through the lines?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 12:42:02 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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I would be very happy if I see in my lifetime the unity between EO and OO.

If one group can achieve unity, then the others are likely to follow pretty fast.
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Offline minasoliman

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Hello Mina,
Thank you for your constructive criticism. I want to make my reading, understanding, and writing as effective as possible.

My guess
is that you are referring to the way that I read Eutyches' statement accepted at Ephesus II:
"I believe that Christ had two natures before the union, and one nature after the union".

Trying to read through the lines like you said, I can guess that Eutyches might not have meant that Christ had divinity and humanity before the union, when he took on humanity.

Was that something that you had in mind when you said that I was not reading through the lines?

More or less
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline rakovsky

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Hello Mina,
Thank you for your constructive criticism. I want to make my reading, understanding, and writing as effective as possible.

My guess
is that you are referring to the way that I read Eutyches' statement accepted at Ephesus II:
"I believe that Christ had two natures before the union, and one nature after the union".

Trying to read through the lines like you said, I can guess that Eutyches might not have meant that Christ had divinity and humanity before the union, when he took on humanity.

More or less
Dear Mina,

I was aware from our discussions that Eutyches might not have meant the open, plain meaning of his statement "Christ had two natures before the union". I have three main reasons to think that he did and one reason that he didn't.

I did not go into this because my goal in the thread was much simpler:
I wanted to give two examples where some OOs and EOs had each made a step in the right direction.

On the OO side:
(A) Ephesus II accepted Eutyches' statement "I believe that Christ had two natures before the union, and one nature after the union".
(B) Chalcedon anathematized those who accept this statement.
(C) Met. Bishoy wrote:
Quote
by this they meant Eutyches and the doctrine of confusion between the two natures. It is well known that the Non-Chalcedonian side anathematizes whoever believes in “two natures before the union”, because this expression suggests the existence of the humanity before its union with the divinity.
When he said this, Met. Bishoy opposed (A) Eutyches' expression accepted at Ephesus II by openly rejecting its first half.
And he accepted (B) Chalcedon's anathema on it because "by this they meant Eutyches and the doctrine of confusion between the two natures."

By going against something known to be accepted at Ephesus II and by interpreting this Chalcedonian anathema sympathetically, Met. Bishoy took a step in the direction of reconciliation. He could have said nothing or claimed: "This statement does not mean that Christ had two natures before the union, so Chalcedon's anathema was plain wrong." But he made a courageous move. This kind of step can be extremely difficult for many people on both sides. Many people find it very hard to openly directly disagree with a doctrinal expression that can be found in their Tradition.

On the EO side
I said that when EOs do not label OOs Eutychian Mon.physites, it is a step in the direction of reconciliation. The OO Church later anathematized Eutyches, and you have explained that you don't endorse his teaching, so this is a step that I sympathize with.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 02:49:42 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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I have three main reasons to think that he[Eutyches] did and one reason that he didn't.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline minasoliman

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I'm going to avoid the semantic arguments and just ask you to answer this:

Is there anything in Chalcedon you find condemned by your bishops that is also "a step in the direction of reconciliation?"  Any "courageous moves" made by Chalcedonians you endorse?
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline rakovsky

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Hello, Mina.

As I understand it, the question of whether Christ had two natures before the incarnation was among recognized Mon.physites in the 5th century a substantive, material issue.

I am not aware of EO bishops having directly condemned any specific decisions by Chalcedon. However maybe you or others here know of some. The joint EO-OO bishops' Aarhus Statement discusses Chalcedon and also has a step of reconciliation:
Quote
Since we agree in rejecting without reservation the teaching of Eutyches as well as of Nestorius, the acceptance or non-acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon does not entail the acceptance of either heresy. Both sides found themselves fundamentally following the Christological teaching of the one undivided Church as expressed by St. Cyril. The Council of Chalcedon (451), we realize, can only be understood as reaffirming the decisions of Ephesus (431), and best understood in the light of the later Council of Constantinople (553).
The underlined part that rejects the designation of OOs as Eutychians is a courageous step in the direction of reconciliation, as it's a characterization that can be found in Church fathers like St John of Damascus. I endorse it, because you and your bishops have said that you do not share his theology.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 04:26:42 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline minasoliman

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Rakovsky, I'm sorry to say but it seems Mor is write.  Either you're too obtuse or you're very much one-sided on this issue.  You really do deserve the criticism you get.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline rakovsky

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Mina,
In this thread, I said that I agreed with Met. Bishoy's criticism of Eutyches' statement accepted at Ephesus II.

It sounds like you are saying to me that I needed to balance my agreement with something in Chalcedon that was condemned by my bishops. Otherwise, by expressing my agreement with Met. Bishoy, I am obtuse or one-sided. Did I understand you correctly?
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 01:01:42 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline minasoliman

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You balance the "courage" of Metropolitan Bishoy's rejection of a phrase with the EO bishops "courage" of rejection of stereotypical views.  That's not the same thing.  So yes, it shows you are either obtuse or conniving.
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Offline rakovsky

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You balance the "courage" of Metropolitan Bishoy's rejection of a phrase with the EO bishops "courage" of rejection of stereotypical views.  That's not the same thing.  So yes, it shows you are either obtuse or conniving.

Quote
connive
Secretly allow (something immoral, illegal, or harmful) to occur.
‘government officials were prepared to connive in impeding the course of justice’

usually connive to do something Conspire to do something immoral, illegal, or harmful.
‘she connived with a senior official to rig the results of last year's election’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/connive

Like I said in the OP, I want to have open discussions. So I want to be open about what I want to occur when I made that comment, not "conniving". I want correct criticisms, like those of Met. Bishoy, to be made of Eutyches' statement, because I disagree with it for reasons that Met. Bishoy and I have given, and because it was a key starting point of disagreement in schismating our communions, whereas I want reconciliation. I don't find my open desire or criticisms to be immoral.

If you feel that I needed to balance my agreement with something in Chalcedon that was condemned by my bishops, then my answer is that I don't know of episcopal condemnations, but they could exist, and I encourage you and others to mention any that you know of. And since I don't know of an example, I provided the next best thing that came to mind: our bishops' rejection of the Eutychian label for OOs that can be found in our church fathers and among many EOs today. Maybe one of our Councils had a reference to OOs supposedly being Eutychians, and so this example coud work.

Why not treat this discussion as a positive opportunity to say:
"Look how far Met. Bishoy has gone in reconciliation, reviewing Ephesus II critically", or:
"I know of something a bishop condemned in Chalcedon", or:
"Here is something that I would have used to balance Met. Bishoy's criticism"?

My open desire is to have a full, positive, constructive, critical, ecumenical discussion like I outlined in the beginning.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 02:06:12 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline minasoliman

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Okay...let me give you an answer to Met. Bishoy's statement.  Met. Bishoy is also a very obtuse man, and his dealings with ecumenical discussions have been very controversial.  At times even in his lectures, his teachings about theletism shows a bit of ignorance on his part.  In fact, his rejection of certain Scriptural interpretations and doctrines have also proven how ignorant and obtuse he is.

With that said, are there people who do not like the phrase?  Yes, but the phrase is not the issue, it's HOW you interpret it.  Just like Pope Leo's phrases that many of your theologians were uneasy with, but again they retorted: it's HOW you interpret it.  . 

The "courageous" act is humility in recognizing semantics over substantial differences, not to remove semantic phrases.  This is what the families of Orthodoxy are working on.

I remember having a HUGE discussion with you on this, but to no avail, you still INSIST on your own interpretation.  So once again I tell you:  either you're being obtuse or conniving.

And don't repeat what you said.  Admit that you're unable to comprehend this phrase and move on, and I'll respect you for that.  But once you admit that, you must also be courageous enough not to continue to have these discussions and find another hobby.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 02:22:46 PM by minasoliman »
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline rakovsky

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Dear Mina,
I like you and the fact that you were open with me in your last message. I think you made good points that I agree with and also raised worthwhile issues, like semantic v. substantive problems with Eutyches' statement, whether Met. Bishoy speaks for all OOs, EOs writing about whether there is leeway on Pope Leo's phrases, and especially how the clause does not reflect a substantive difference between EOs and OOs.

What I would like to do is take a break to think about the good points that you raised, and how to best reply, and return to this later, since my goal is for the most constructive, thoughtful, positive discussion.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline theorthodoxchurch

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Dears

Many thanks for the kind responses and on going discussions. Let us continue to seek unity in our own humble ways.
We have a lot to do and achieve. Let us pray and strengthen ourselves for global pan-orthodox concilar unity.
georgy