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Author Topic: What an Orthodox Christian must beleive  (Read 1558 times) Average Rating: 0
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Armchair Theologian
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« on: November 21, 2012, 04:07:51 PM »

OK, so I started another thread with a round of initial questions relating to my ongoing inquiry into Orthodoxy. Now I'm back with another round of question. Really, it boils down to one question: what does a person need to accept and believe in order to be truly Orthodox?

To give some examples of what I'm really asking: in Orthodoxy there are some interesting ideas and legends that seem to be generally believed and indorsed as true by many Orthodox Christians. Take for example some of the stories about St Luke being the first to paint icons, or about his being one of the Seventy. Or take the legend of the Image of Edessa, AKA, the Mandylion or Icon-Made-Without-Hands... Now, some say that these things really happened and that it is all fact that has been passed down to us through sacred tradition, but then when you investigate these things you see that the first mentions of them in writing don't occur until centuries after the fact, and that secular scholars (whatever their opinion is worth) believe them to be myths that took shape over time.

Or take the Miracle of Holy Fire. Some believe it is true, some think it a hoax.

While I personally am not against believing in any of these things, I'll admit I'm not naturally inclined to believe them, and I have always taken these kinds of extra-biblical religious 'legends' with a grain of salt...and no offense to people who absolutely believe them. There are strong cases to be made both for and against them, but one can sincerely recite the Creed without fully accepting old stories that don't seem to be essential to Christian dogma. So the question is, form someone who still knows very little about Orthodoxy, are Orthodox Christians expected to swallow the whole cannon of approved Christian legend and believe all of it, or is there freedom to frame personal opinions on such subjects?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 04:13:32 PM by Armchair Theologian » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 04:21:12 PM »

Basically you have to believe the Nicene Creed and the Seven Ecumenical Councils.  Of course Scripture as well and the Liturgical texts.  Outside of that I think you are pretty much free to disagree with the other teachings.
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 04:30:40 PM »

I'm not an expert who can tell you "This must be believed" vs "This you may choose (or not) to believe".

But since you've asked for my point of view, here it is  Smiley. I'm not sure that "this vs that" is the right approach. The Gospel - indeed the Christian faith as a whole - is all about Christ. So the question becomes, "What do these other stories teach me about Christ?" In that case, whether or not they are historically true is less important.

I remember hearing on one of his gazillion podcasts that Fr Thomas Hopko pointed out that the only dogma about our Lord's Mother is that she is "Theotokos". That was decreed and affirmed at an ecumenical council (I can never remember exactly which one most of the time, sorry). However, as we learn about her life through the stories that have been told about her, we understand more clearly her role in our salvation which is found in Christ.

Note that many Biblical stories seem far-fetched and are difficult to prove historically. Why should non-Biblical - but rooted in oral Tradition rather than written Tradition - stories be less valuable to us?

The story of the rich young man who asked "What must I do to be saved?" seems to be asking "What's the minimum I need?" Jesus told him to sell all and give to the poor. In other words, the question should be "How much can I do?" You may be asking, "What's the minimum I need to believe?" Probably not exactly that - or you wouldn't be making that public here  Cheesy - but even our own beliefs and non-beliefs can be treasured as much or even more, I suppose, as material goods.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 04:59:23 PM »

I don't think God expects us to take a first glance at common teachings of the Church and accept everything.  Our faith grows as we grow in the Church as it is the deposit of faith.  You might be suprised at what you will believe once you have spent more time in the Church.  When I converted from a Baptist background, I questioned many of the teachings of the Church, but I focused on that which I knew to be Truth.  As I stay in the Church longer, some of the things I struggled with gradually faded into the background and began to make more sense.
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 05:25:15 PM »

I'm not sure there's a "This is what you've GOT to believe, and can forget the rest" approach to Orthodoxy. Certainly the Creed and the Councils are "dogma", but there are plenty of other things very well enshrined into Orthodoxy that have no actual dogmatic authority. Today's feast is one of those: The Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. You don't technically have to believe this event ever happened. Doesn't make you not Orthodox...on paper. But, if you went to the services of this feast without believing this feast is at least somewhat historical (even if you disbelieve the Theotokos lived in the Holy of Holies...plenty of Orthodox do, and I'm not sold on the idea either) you would feel pretty out-of-place.

All of that to say, I don't believe you can boil Orthodoxy down. Either you're part of the Church or you aren't. Being Orthodox doesn't simply mean assenting to checklist of beliefs, but it also means to be part of a living, breathing community that holds communion with the rest of the Church that is in historic succession with the apostles and those who have held the Faith throughout the centuries. That may sound "mystical" and "vague"...and that's because it is. I think there's something truly ineffable about identifying your faith as "Orthodox Christian", because, simply, we can't fully explain a Faith in a God who cannot be contained, even in language.
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 06:07:16 PM »

I'm not sure there's a "This is what you've GOT to believe, and can forget the rest" approach to Orthodoxy. Certainly the Creed and the Councils are "dogma", but there are plenty of other things very well enshrined into Orthodoxy that have no actual dogmatic authority. Today's feast is one of those: The Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. You don't technically have to believe this event ever happened. Doesn't make you not Orthodox...on paper. But, if you went to the services of this feast without believing this feast is at least somewhat historical (even if you disbelieve the Theotokos lived in the Holy of Holies...plenty of Orthodox do, and I'm not sold on the idea either) you would feel pretty out-of-place.

All of that to say, I don't believe you can boil Orthodoxy down. Either you're part of the Church or you aren't. Being Orthodox doesn't simply mean assenting to checklist of beliefs, but it also means to be part of a living, breathing community that holds communion with the rest of the Church that is in historic succession with the apostles and those who have held the Faith throughout the centuries. That may sound "mystical" and "vague"...and that's because it is. I think there's something truly ineffable about identifying your faith as "Orthodox Christian", because, simply, we can't fully explain a Faith in a God who cannot be contained, even in language.

Well, what we have to believe about today's feast is what we say at the Liturgical services of the feast.
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 06:10:12 PM »

While I personally am not against believing in any of these things, I'll admit I'm not naturally inclined to believe them, and I have always taken these kinds of extra-biblical religious 'legends' with a grain of salt...

Sola scriptura is an extra-biblical legend.
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 06:39:18 PM »

Some pertinent words of wisdom on the matters raised in the OP, from a priest I greatly respect and love:

Quote

Being spiritually bound to Holy Tradition, including the Church services and its hymns, Church buildings and their iconography, Saints and their lives, in all its fulness, is not a burden being laid upon anyone. Certainly these things cannot be 'used' as a demonstration of faithfulness, but they are a joy to the faithful heart, they are a sure guide in the darkness of this world, and I would hesitate to imagine with what sort of scalpel I might use to extricate what I might imagine to be the superfluous parts.

What is the meaning of necessary for salvation and who is to decide? Yes, the Councils, yes Holy Scripture -- and yes, Holy Tradition. It seems that our Lord, through His Body the Church has made and continually makes her offering to us: it is manifold and life-giving. I don't think any of us can consume all of it, because it is varied and endless in its scope. On the other hand, what part of it would I not wish to consume for my spiritual benefit? The Lord's burden is indeed light, and rejoicing in His Body the Church and all that it offers to us for the putting away of passions and the renewal of our minds seems to be worthwhile. I have never read a Saint of the Church speak otherwise.

A parishioner one time said to me, after hearing a sermon on the life of St. Mary of Egypt: "Father, do you really believe that? [The miraculous story of her life] Because I don't." I responded, "Yes, I do." To which he replied, "I don't think it is necessary for my salvation to believe that story." To which I said, "Possibly not for you, but it most certainly it is for me." And I say so for many reasons, but chiefly I am overjoyed that the life of St. Mary was indeed lived and has been given to the whole Church (and thus to me), to treasure in the many ways that it is treasured. I never considered it was conflated or untrue in its telling, because the Church sanctified it and gave it to us for the edification of our hearts. Are the stories from the life of the Most Holy Theotokos any different? I remember the first time I saw an icon of her first seven steps in Chora and was fascinated to learn the story, a story I had never heard, but which was clearly part of the Holy Tradition of the Church -- there in small glass tiles on the ceiling on an ancient Temple dedicated to the Living.

Two quotes from St. John of Kronstadt -- not offered as a prooftext, but as a mere drop in the endless ocean of similar such thoughts from a deified person:

"As there is not a single superfluous word in the church service, it is especially necessary at the time of the singing of the redoubled litany to pray to God most fervently, from the very depths of a most contrite heart, as we are reminded at the very beginning of the litany by the words: "Let us say with our whole souls and with our whole mind."

How should we keep the festivals? We must celebrate in them either the event (with a view of investigating the greatness of the event, its object, and the fruits it brought to those who believe) or the person; as, for instance, our Lord, the Mother of God, the angels and saints (with the view of investigating the relation of that person to God and to mankind and his beneficial influence upon God's Church in general). It is necessary to investigate the history of the event or of the person whose festival we solemnise, to approach it or him with, our whole heart, to absorb them, so to say, into ourselves; otherwise the festival will be incomplete, and not pleasing to God. The festivals ought to influence our life, to vivify and kindle our faith in future blessings, and maintain in us a pious and gentle disposition. Yet they are mostly spent in sin and folly and met with unbelieving, cold hearts, often wholly unprepared to feel the great mercies which God has vouchsafed to us through the particular event or person whose festival is celebrated.

And, in response to those who deny or diminish certain details of Orthodox feasts or lives of saints:

Quote
The festal cycle of the Church is organic and interconnected -- and in it we are not seeking to satisfy a doctrine of minimum, but to be immersed in the Life of Christ, in which the grace of the All-Holy Spirit dwells, such that every person is sanctified and prepares for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. The feasts of the Church are not metaphors, but the commemoration of historical events -- encounters -- with the Living God. I know of no feast that is the celebration of a metaphor.

Knowingly telling a false story (tale / legend) under the guise of history to make a 'point', however true, is a manner of deception and coercion, something incompatible with the deified Fathers of the Church.
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2012, 07:07:51 PM »

I think we can say everything in the Nicene Creed is essential. As to whether you must believe every jot of hagiography... I'm not sure. But the Creed is a simple way to get a handle on the main things.
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2012, 08:51:35 PM »

Like that part from the Protoevangelium of James where the midwife's hand gets burnt by...

uh...

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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2012, 09:38:18 PM »

OK, so I started another thread with a round of initial questions relating to my ongoing inquiry into Orthodoxy. Now I'm back with another round of question. Really, it boils down to one question: what does a person need to accept and believe in order to be truly Orthodox?

To give some examples of what I'm really asking: in Orthodoxy there are some interesting ideas and legends that seem to be generally believed and indorsed as true by many Orthodox Christians. Take for example some of the stories about St Luke being the first to paint icons, or about his being one of the Seventy. Or take the legend of the Image of Edessa, AKA, the Mandylion or Icon-Made-Without-Hands... Now, some say that these things really happened and that it is all fact that has been passed down to us through sacred tradition, but then when you investigate these things you see that the first mentions of them in writing don't occur until centuries after the fact, and that secular scholars (whatever their opinion is worth) believe them to be myths that took shape over time.

Or take the Miracle of Holy Fire. Some believe it is true, some think it a hoax.

While I personally am not against believing in any of these things, I'll admit I'm not naturally inclined to believe them, and I have always taken these kinds of extra-biblical religious 'legends' with a grain of salt...and no offense to people who absolutely believe them. There are strong cases to be made both for and against them, but one can sincerely recite the Creed without fully accepting old stories that don't seem to be essential to Christian dogma. So the question is, form someone who still knows very little about Orthodoxy, are Orthodox Christians expected to swallow the whole cannon of approved Christian legend and believe all of it, or is there freedom to frame personal opinions on such subjects?

I will make this short and sweet.  Of course, everyone has an opinion, and some what they think to be a very valuable one at that.

There is a reason why we formally call the creed, not "creed," but rather "the Symbol of the [Orthodox] Faith."  [note, I am not saying that we can't call it creed as a nickname, for all you who love to strike in adversity].  The other councils also have dogmas that must be believed, that are merely a clarification of what is in the Symbol of the Faith already.  Some of these things are already spelled out in the office of reception for one who was not previously Orthodox. 

But in my opinion, the first few words of the Symbol are enough to tell us what it is all about:  "Pistevo"--I have trust in, I believe in..."  When we get to the part about "One Holy Catholic [lacking nothing of essentiality] and Apostolic Church"--if we put are trust in God the Father, and His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ and and the Holy Spirit, then we are putting our trust in the House of Faith, the House of God, this Church.  This gives us the minimal responsibility to believe in the essential dogmas, but also the responsibility to consider the epiphany of God that is the Church in the Church. 

Take that all as you will, with prayer. 

 


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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2012, 02:30:39 AM »

It is certainly so that many things in scripture must be taken on faith, even without a massive pool of historical evidence. Like the Exodus from Egypt, for example. Most scholars seem to think it didn't happen, and little evidence has turned up for it (although I could understand why the Egyptians wouldn't want to record said event), but nevertheless I came to accept it on faith because it's in the Bible, and I believe the Bible. That said, there was a time when I had trouble intellectually accepting many things in the Bible. I am the kind of person who always has to absolutely PICK. EVERY. LITTLE. THING. APART, and EXAMINE EVERYTHING before I can accept it. This has protected me from the claims of used car salesmen, but has made progress in religion slow and difficult at times. The thing that's gotten me through it and past it is that I'm absolutely terrified of going to hell. Smiley So I not only read, but prayed, and prayed hard, often with tears, for the Lord to show me the correct truth. This process has led me from the charismatic churches to the church of the Nazarene and now has me thinking about joining mainstream (none-protestant) Christianity. I see I'm going to have to keep praying for a while until I find my way through the darkness.

But yes, thank you for your help. Perhaps it'll settle in over time. Smiley   
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« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2012, 03:19:16 AM »

Not to double post, but it occurs to me I have another inquiry related to this... OK, so, I've read a lot about Icons (big surprise sense Icons are alien to the protestant), and I often come across the claim that icons of a kind were used in Christian worship straight from the very beginning. Now, naturally, I looked into this, and found some information that roughly corresponds to the Wikipedia article on icons. To summarize, it seems archeologically that the first Christians made some artistic works, but the first written references to early Christian art spoke of Christians using the image of the Shepard, and other common symbols, as reminders or expressions of their faith, but did not seem to be too concerned with making images of Christ or saints or martyrs, and there's no evidence that they felt any special benefit from praying and worshiping in the presence of images, though in fairness, little evidence against it. Over time Christian imagery evolved, though it was hotly despised by some. St. Epiphanius of Salamis went so far as to rip down a curtain with what he described as an image of either Christ or a saint that he found in a church. He told the bishop that such images were opposed to Christianity. It seems to me, personally, that if such images were to any extent commonly seen and used in the churches or of the 4th century, this one curtain would not have received notice.

That said, Icons don't really bother me. And it wouldn't bother me to think that the practice of using Icons developed gradually over time. That's what, I think, Holy Tradition is partly about. It's about the idea that the experience of the church throughout the ages, guided by the Holy Spirit, has led the church to a greater and more profound experience of the truth. I like that idea! It's like saying the story of the book of Acts...the story of God's people...the story of the Bible didn't just end with the Bible. It's still going on today! So if the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit, there's nothing wrong with believing that her traditions developed over the ages. I would be comfortable with that. But when I see some insisting that most of these practices were present from the very first and taught by the apostles themselves, it causes a difficulty for me. If the origin claim is sketchy, then the practice itself could be sketchy. It also puts a damper on the idea that Icons are 'imperative' to proper Christian worship. Seemingly, to many Christians in the early days of the Church, they were not...or at least it can be argued that St. Epiphanius attained to deification, despising them all the while...

Now, I'm not saying I know for a fact that the early Christians didn't use icons, I'm just saying it seems sketchy from what I know so far. So again, I'm faced with a choice of believing on faith that saint Luke actually painted icons, and that this was a common practice of the early church, or accepting that the practice, however meritorious, developed in later centuries. Which view is orthodox, and how can you tell? Clearly I have a long way to go with this. Smiley

I hope I'm not offending anyone with this. I just want to be open and upfront with my thoughts, but please let me know if I go to far.
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2012, 03:56:50 AM »

Quote
To summarize, it seems first written references to early Christian art spoke of Christians using the image of the Shepard, and other symbols, as reminders or expressions of their faith, but did not seem to be too concerned with making images of Christ or saints or martyrs,

You're forgetting that until the turn of the fourth century, Christians were subject to great persecution. Many of the earliest images they produced were, by necessity, cryptic and symbolic, so as not to arouse suspicion. These images include a T (representing the cross), the shepherd (for Christ), a ship (the ship/ark of the Church), and the fish (representing Christ). The fish was a particularly ingenious symbol, as it referred not only to the miracles Christ performed which involved fish, but the Greek word IXΘYC (fish) spells out the initial letters of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior in Greek.
Quote
Over time Christian imagery evolved, though it was hotly despised by some. St. Epiphanius of Salamis went so far as to rip down a curtain with what he described as an image of either Christ or a saint that he found in a church. He told the bishop that such images were opposed to Christianity.

Iconoclasm is little different from other heresies, ancient and contemporary, in that it had its supporters and detractors. In a nutshell, iconoclasm represents a false and deficient understanding of the nature and purpose of the Incarnation. Iconoclasm, in effect, denies the full incarnation of God, and denies Christ's redemption and sanctification of what is tangible and material.

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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2012, 04:58:57 AM »

Well, I just discovered that there seems to be a debate as the the authenticity of the iconophobic writings attributed St. Epiphanius of Salamis. Of course, protestants think he wrote them, and the Orthodox think he didn't. I don't know what secular scholarship generally thinks about it, but sense the claim that he hated Icons is disputed, I think what I said about him above can be can be disregarded or placed under a question mark. Smiley

I don't think not seeing a need for Icons in worship has much baring on a person's understanding or acceptance of Christ's incarnation or sanctification of the material, but then again I don't know the full argument. I've seen similar statements on many orthodox websites, but as yet I'm not convinced of that. I can see how an Icon can be helpful, but I can also see why some Christians don't use them. I'm in a wonderful (and horrible) place of being somewhere in the middle of all the disagreement. I can see everyone's point of view, but understand none of them completely. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2012, 05:59:23 AM »

Well, I just discovered that there seems to be a debate as the the authenticity of the iconophobic writings attributed St. Epiphanius of Salamis. Of course, protestants think he wrote them, and the Orthodox think he didn't. I don't know what secular scholarship generally thinks about it, but sense the claim that he hated Icons is disputed, I think what I said about him above can be can be disregarded or placed under a question mark. Smiley

I don't think not seeing a need for Icons in worship has much baring on a person's understanding or acceptance of Christ's incarnation or sanctification of the material, but then again I don't know the full argument. I've seen similar statements on many orthodox websites, but as yet I'm not convinced of that. I can see how an Icon can be helpful, but I can also see why some Christians don't use them. I'm in a wonderful (and horrible) place of being somewhere in the middle of all the disagreement. I can see everyone's point of view, but understand none of them completely. Smiley

St John of Damascus wrote a series of essays called In Defense of the Holy Images, arguably the most authoritative single work on the theology and propriety of icons, and which greatly influenced the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which is best known for its repudiation of iconoclasm, and the affirmation of icons and their veneration as a proper and necessary part of Orthodox devotion. Though he lived from the late 7th to the mid-8th century, St John refers and again to saints and fathers who greatly preceded him in time, who, themselves, spoke about icons and their theology, and the nature of Christ, God Incarnate. Here's a link to this treatise, it's not very long:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/johndamascus-images.asp

Here also are quotes of his, brief, but loaded with meaning and wisdom, which express the correct teaching on icons, and their relationship to the Incarnation:

"If we made an image of the invisible God, we would certainly be in error ... but we do not do anything of the kind; we do not err, in fact, if we make the image of God incarnate who appeared on earth in the flesh, who in His ineffable goodness, lived with men and assumed the nature, the volume, the form, and the color of the flesh..."

"Since the invisible God became visible by taking on flesh, you can fashion the image of Him whom you saw. Since He who has neither body nor form, nor quantity nor quality, who goes beyond all grandeur by the excellence of His nature, He, being of divine nature, took on the condition of a slave and reduced Himself to quantity and quality by clothing Himself in human features. Therefore, paint on wood and present for contemplation Him who desired to become visible."

"Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was not depicted at all. But now that God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I make an image of the God who can be seen. I do not worship matter, but I worship the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation. I will not cease from venerating the matter through which my salvation has been effected."

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« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2012, 11:41:14 PM »

I believe the absolutes of what an Orthodox Christian MUST believe is summed up in the Nicene Contantinoplean Creed. All else is related to that. The Creed is the only thing that the Orthdodox Christian says at Baptism and Chrismation except to renounce the devil and all his works.
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2012, 05:35:37 AM »

don`t you mean all ecumenical councils?which includes the veneration of icons, veneration of saints, the christological dogmas, the marian dogmas and other appointments for the church?
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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2012, 05:50:05 AM »

Ibelieve the absoluytes of what an Orthodox Christian MUST believe is summed up in the Nicene Contantinoplean Creed. All else is related to that. The Creed is the only thing that the Orthdodox Christian says at Baptism and Chrismation except to renounce the devil and all his works.

I agree!  This is the definitive place to begin and move forward.  An absolute minimum.
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2012, 05:51:57 AM »

Ibelieve the absoluytes of what an Orthodox Christian MUST believe is summed up in the Nicene Contantinoplean Creed. All else is related to that. The Creed is the only thing that the Orthdodox Christian says at Baptism and Chrismation except to renounce the devil and all his works.

I agree!  This is the definitive place to begin and move forward.  An absolute minimum.

You can easily be a Protestant and have that.In fact there are quite a few of Protestants that have that.
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« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2012, 07:49:54 AM »

Ibelieve the absoluytes of what an Orthodox Christian MUST believe is summed up in the Nicene Contantinoplean Creed. All else is related to that. The Creed is the only thing that the Orthdodox Christian says at Baptism and Chrismation except to renounce the devil and all his works.

I agree!  This is the definitive place to begin and move forward.  An absolute minimum.

You can easily be a Protestant and have that.In fact there are quite a few of Protestants that have that.
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« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2012, 01:15:03 PM »

@Kerdy Like "the minimum i must do to be saved" ?

@Kerdy what differentiates an Orthodox from a Protestant or any other type of Christian if that minimum is enough for  an Orthodox?why not stay Protestant, RCC, Judaizer, etc?
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« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2012, 01:22:21 PM »

Could a Protestant really have the same creed, when you say "and I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" would you be professing the same understanding?
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« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2012, 02:38:51 PM »

Could a roman catholic?
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« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2012, 02:42:43 PM »

I would absolutely say that the understanding of a roman catholic would be different as well
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« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2012, 08:46:15 PM »

Each uses a different creed (Orthodox, Catholic, many Protestants use Catholic creed or their own).  Now, since we all know this, lets focus on something with a little meat to it. police

For every journey, there must be a beginning.  This is why I used "minimum".  However, if one is unable to accept our creed, one can not move forward.  This is the point of choosing.  There is always more to learn, so the journey never ends, until one can not reconcile Church doctrine.  Then that person begins a new journey outside Orthodoxy.  

As I am a fairly recent convert (two years) I can't speak on the totality of what an Orthodox must believe, so I spoke on what little I do know.  I apologize if I over stepped my boundaries.  I simple wanted to share in the discussion from my experience, albeit little.
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« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2012, 04:06:28 AM »

The Nicean Creed is obviously the best place to start, but ONLY the Nicean Creed in its totality. In other words, no cutting out the second half once it mentions the 'Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church' as many mainline Protestant denominations do.
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« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2012, 08:33:33 AM »

The Nicean Creed is obviously the best place to start, but ONLY the Nicean Creed in its totality. In other words, no cutting out the second half once it mentions the 'Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church' as many mainline Protestant denominations do
Apostolic means to succeed the teaching of Apostles.

How about Catholic?WHAT does Catholic mean? (I don' t think it mean Catholic Church) Undecided
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« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2012, 08:41:18 AM »


How about Catholic?WHAT does Catholic mean? (I don' t think it mean Catholic Church) Undecided

It's from the Greek word for 'universal'.
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« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2012, 10:40:41 AM »


How about Catholic?WHAT does Catholic mean? (I don' t think it mean Catholic Church) Undecided

It's from the Greek word for 'universal'.

While 'universal' is one of its meanings, it is not limited to that. The word itself comes from "kath olon" (according to the whole), so in an ecclesiological context it also denotes completion, fullness, etc.
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« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2012, 11:59:25 AM »

The Nicean Creed is obviously the best place to start, but ONLY the Nicean Creed in its totality. In other words, no cutting out the second half once it mentions the 'Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church' as many mainline Protestant denominations do.

Hilariously enough, every time I've seen a Protestant church use the full Creed they have to add a footnote or a parentheses saying "lower-case 'catholic,' meaning universal and not referring to Rome."
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« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2012, 12:13:16 PM »

Those crazy westerners, always adding things to the creed... 

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« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2012, 01:49:36 PM »

At the Church I was formerly a part of (Nazarene), they would have a person recite the Apostles Creed at baptism, he or she would say 'catholic', but the pastor made it understood to the person being baptized beforehand that the word 'catholic' did not refer to Roman Catholicism. Smiley Their interpretation of the creed, I take it, is that the universal or "catholic' church refers to the whole body of all Christians who are united to Christ, regardless of denomination, which is I think a reference to the protestant idea of the 'invisible' church. The Lord knows those who are His, and so forth. Smiley I'm obviously not sure I believe that idea anymore, or at least I feel there must be a visible and proper church, which can truly be called the Church, which is the place where Christians ought to be found, which is one reason why I'm flirting with Orthodoxy. I think it's at least clear that the formulators of the old creeds weren't thinking in terms of an invisible church.

As regards my original post, I should clarify that I'm not looking for minimalism. If I were I could easily be a Baptist or Methodist or whatever. All I meant was that I wondered how orthodox generally took the old traditional tales that have come down the ages, and if there was any requirement to accept them as literal truths before baptism. I don't think the question of whether Luke painted icons is going to be anything like a deciding issue for me, but it is a curiosity. Though truthfully looking into it it does already seem more plausible. it certainly is a very old legend.


In a nutshell, iconoclasm represents a false and deficient understanding of the nature and purpose of the Incarnation. Iconoclasm, in effect, denies the full incarnation of God, and denies Christ's redemption and sanctification of what is tangible and material.


I've heard it argued from the Orthodox perspective that Christians who do not use icons in their worship and prayers are exhibiting a defective understanding of the incarnation and the sanctity of the material. I don't know about the ancient iconoclasts, but with respect, I don't think this is necessarily true in all cases. While they are, I think, quite wrong to if they accuse iconophiles of idolatry, not using icons does not necessarily make man a gnostic.

Conversely, it could be argued equally well that insistence upon the necessity of Icons exhibits a defective apprehension of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God, as if heaven requires special windows through which to operate. But no doubt most Orthodox Christians would argue that such a portrayal is incorrect. Same difference. It all just sounds like misunderstanding to me.
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« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2012, 01:53:25 PM »

The Nicean Creed is obviously the best place to start, but ONLY the Nicean Creed in its totality. In other words, no cutting out the second half once it mentions the 'Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church' as many mainline Protestant denominations do
Apostolic means to succeed the teaching of Apostles.

How about Catholic?WHAT does Catholic mean? (I don' t think it mean Catholic Church) Undecided

Is that typical for Protestants?
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« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2012, 01:58:16 PM »

The Nicean Creed is obviously the best place to start, but ONLY the Nicean Creed in its totality. In other words, no cutting out the second half once it mentions the 'Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church' as many mainline Protestant denominations do.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that doesn't happen.
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« Reply #35 on: November 25, 2012, 05:15:38 PM »

The Nicean Creed is obviously the best place to start, but ONLY the Nicean Creed in its totality. In other words, no cutting out the second half once it mentions the 'Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church' as many mainline Protestant denominations do
Apostolic means to succeed the teaching of Apostles.

How about Catholic?WHAT does Catholic mean? (I don' t think it mean Catholic Church) Undecided

It means 'universal' and 'all-sufficient'. In other words, it means the Church that exists everywhere and is all sufficient in that it possesses everything needed for the salvation of its parishioners. Oversimplifying things a bit, I think that in the Roman Empire, the word 'Catholic' was used to refer to all Christians in the empire--heretics included. And then--because of the heretical sects--we also started using the term 'Orthodox', which means 'Original, right-believing'. Combining those two together, it means all of the right-believing Christians in the world.
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« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2012, 01:19:39 PM »

At the Church I was formerly a part of (Nazarene), they would have a person recite the Apostles Creed at baptism, he or she would say 'catholic', but the pastor made it understood to the person being baptized beforehand that the word 'catholic' did not refer to Roman Catholicism. Smiley Their interpretation of the creed, I take it, is that the universal or "catholic' church refers to the whole body of all Christians who are united to Christ, regardless of denomination, which is I think a reference to the protestant idea of the 'invisible' church. The Lord knows those who are His, and so forth. Smiley I'm obviously not sure I believe that idea anymore, or at least I feel there must be a visible and proper church, which can truly be called the Church, which is the place where Christians ought to be found, which is one reason why I'm flirting with Orthodoxy. I think it's at least clear that the formulators of the old creeds weren't thinking in terms of an invisible church.

As regards my original post, I should clarify that I'm not looking for minimalism. If I were I could easily be a Baptist or Methodist or whatever. All I meant was that I wondered how orthodox generally took the old traditional tales that have come down the ages, and if there was any requirement to accept them as literal truths before baptism. I don't think the question of whether Luke painted icons is going to be anything like a deciding issue for me, but it is a curiosity. Though truthfully looking into it it does already seem more plausible. it certainly is a very old legend.


In a nutshell, iconoclasm represents a false and deficient understanding of the nature and purpose of the Incarnation. Iconoclasm, in effect, denies the full incarnation of God, and denies Christ's redemption and sanctification of what is tangible and material.


I've heard it argued from the Orthodox perspective that Christians who do not use icons in their worship and prayers are exhibiting a defective understanding of the incarnation and the sanctity of the material. I don't know about the ancient iconoclasts, but with respect, I don't think this is necessarily true in all cases. While they are, I think, quite wrong to if they accuse iconophiles of idolatry, not using icons does not necessarily make man a gnostic.

Conversely, it could be argued equally well that insistence upon the necessity of Icons exhibits a defective apprehension of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God, as if heaven requires special windows through which to operate. But no doubt most Orthodox Christians would argue that such a portrayal is incorrect. Same difference. It all just sounds like misunderstanding to me.

I think u mean the catechetical qualification before baptism.Ask those who have converted from distinct denominations.I for one, was "born into this religion".
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 01:20:08 PM by Azul » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2012, 01:53:42 PM »

I think that in the Roman Empire, the word 'Catholic' was used to refer to all Christians in the empire--heretics included. And then--because of the heretical sects--

Well, no. Catholic only refered to those belonging to the Orthodox Catholic Church.

we also started using the term 'Orthodox', which means 'Original, right-believing'. Combining those two together, it means all of the right-believing Christians in the world.

IIRC, the miaphysites were the first to call themselves the "Orthodox Church".
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« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2012, 02:00:59 PM »

Oversimplifying things a bit, I think that in the Roman Empire, the word 'Catholic' was used to refer to all Christians in the empire--heretics included.

Quite the contrary, 'Catholic' was the name that distinguished the Church from the churches of heretics. As St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: "If ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God" (Catechetical Lecture 18:26)
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