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Author Topic: Learning about the Orthodox Church  (Read 4038 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew79
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« on: July 01, 2013, 03:51:03 PM »

I have been studying a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church and I understand their doctrines/theology very well.I am interested in hearing from the OC, but the problem is I live in a heavily RC community and the nearest OC is an hour and a half drive one way. Too far to really meet anyone  let alone to consider joining and being involved.

What do OC Christians do when they don't live anywhere near an Orthodox church? Maybe that is an unrealistic question because anyone who is Orthodox lives near an Orthodox church?
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 03:57:57 PM »


Welcome to the Forum, Matthew79!

No, many Orthodox Christians live far away from the nearest church.

Some try to make it to church as often as they can.

If not able, then pray at home.

You can listen to Ancient Faith Radio.  The hymns and commentary are very inspiring and soothing, not to mention informative.

...and of course you can learn a lot about Orthodoxy from the folks on this Forum.  Smiley  Just remember, people are people....and sometimes, they lose their tempers, say the wrong things, etc.  Don't let that influence your opinion of the Church.

Once again, welcome!!!


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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 04:35:01 PM »

If I lived that far away, then home worship would become much more important for me.  On weeks where I couldn't make it to Divine Liturgy (or other services) I would use my prayer book and perhaps do a reader service.   Set up an icon corner in the home.  Get connected with people online.  Stream a liturgy perhaps.  Hymns/chant in the stereo.  I would try to get to church at least once or twice a month at that distance.  Find someone to carpool with Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 06:32:46 PM »

They stay connected to other Orthodox Christians by talking to each other on forums like this one.
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2013, 06:34:13 PM »

I commute about 1:15 now.
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2013, 06:48:14 PM »

I have been studying a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church and I understand their doctrines/theology very well.I am interested in hearing from the OC, but the problem is I live in a heavily RC community and the nearest OC is an hour and a half drive one way. Too far to really meet anyone  let alone to consider joining and being involved.

What do OC Christians do when they don't live anywhere near an Orthodox church? Maybe that is an unrealistic question because anyone who is Orthodox lives near an Orthodox church?

There was a time not too long ago when there were very few Orthodox churches in the US, and many Orthodox people could never get to one. In my area, the Orthodox would go to the Episcopal church until the 1950s, when the Orthodox got a parish organized.

But you might find it interesting if you can visit one Sunday.
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Matthew79
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2013, 07:51:54 PM »

I know some people do "internet church", but I think face-to-face fellowship with other believers is vital to ones faith. I can't say I am anywhere near ready for that leap yet.

I know EO and RC have their differences that are actually pretty big, but they also have a lot of similarities and were at one time part of the same church. How big of a deal would it be to join a RC considering that it is so much more available? Does the EO see the RC as a part of the true church? For that matter, how does the EO view protestant churches?

RUFUS- How did those people come to be Orthodox if there weren't any around? Were they immigrants from another country where Orthodoxy was more prevalent? I will likely make a trip one day to go visit one.
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2013, 07:54:32 PM »

How big of a deal would it be to join a RC considering that it is so much more available?

Same deal as joining any other religion that is not Orthodox Christianity.

Quote
Does the EO see the RC as a part of the true church?

No.

Quote
For that matter, how does the EO view protestant churches?

Same as we view Catholics.
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2013, 08:10:34 PM »

Welcome Matthew, I read about Orthodoxy for a year before we started going to our Orthodox church. When we did start we would only go every other week, we live just over an hour away though there are people at our church who drive further. Now we go every Sunday and some Saturdays but it's totally worth it.

I would say not to join a church right now if your not certain doing something like joining the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church should not be something one does for just a little while, until something better comes along. Attend a local church perhaps but that doesn't mean you have to join one. Check out the Orthodox church when you get a chance. Then come back when you can. In the meantime read, but there's nothing like experiencing it.

Yes there are differences and some are significant enough to say someone is right and that does mean the other is wrong. Other differences not so much but some are significant.
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2013, 08:46:43 PM »


Yes there are differences and some are significant enough to say someone is right and that does mean the other is wrong. Other differences not so much but some are significant.

Thanks. I thought as much, but just trying to work through the options here. I suppose an hour and a half is not too bad if only once a week or every other week.

I see there seem to be varying sects of Orthodox (Greek, Russian, OCA, etc.) Where can I find a summary of the differences or comparison of these or are they all generally the same? Depending which one I went to, would that affect whether it was spoken in English or not?

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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2013, 09:02:00 PM »

hey cool! I found a church locator. Turns out there is a Ukranian Orthodox just under an hour away. That other one I was thinking of is Greek and it is only 1:15.
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2013, 09:02:07 PM »



Thanks. I thought as much, but just trying to work through the options here. I suppose an hour and a half is not too bad if only once a week or every other week.

I see there seem to be varying sects of Orthodox (Greek, Russian, OCA, etc.) Where can I find a summary of the differences or comparison of these or are they all generally the same? Depending which one I went to, would that affect whether it was spoken in English or not?


They are not sects at all.  All of the ones you mention are in full communion with each other and fully Orthodox.  The beliefs are identical (if they weren't, we couldn't all be in communion).  Orthodoxy does not have a centralized structure.  There are 15 autocephalous (self-governing) churches and several more which are autonomous (largely self-governing but still responsible directly to the hierarchy of an autocephalous church).   Each national church is independent in polity but unified in faith (if one church started teaching erroneous doctrine, for example, the others would simply cut off communion).  

If you go to Russia, of course there you'd find the Russian Orthodox Church, but there is no need to denominate it as such, because it is the Orthodox Church in Russia, headed by the Patriarch of Moscow.  Similarly, if you go to Serbia, you'll find what we call the Serbian Orthodox Church but which is really the Orthodox Church which is headed by the Patriarch of Serbia.  You get the idea.

The problem comes in here in North America where the immigrants brought Orthodoxy here starting about 100 years ago, a little more than that now.  Originally the Russian Church was working to unify all of the Orthodox immigrants under its hierarchy, because it first evangelised North America, via Alaska, in the 1700s.  However, the Russian Revolution intervened, the hierarchy there was severely persecuted, and the Orthodox here largely had to fend for themselves.  So the Greek immigrants continued to report to the Greek hierarchy back home, the Syrian/Lebanese/Antiochian to theirs, etc., etc.  In 1970 Russia granted autocephaly to the Orthodox remaining under its jurisdiction here, who became the Orthodox Church in America.  (But even some of theirs didn't, and they remain directly under the Patriarch of Moscow to this day.  Still others who were very wary of the communist influence on the Russian Church had formed the "Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia" and these only rejoined with the Russian hierarchy in 2007 or so.)  So the ethnic qualifiers you see -- Ukrainian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, etc., only signify to which bishops those churches report, and (in many cases) where their founders came from.

The bishops themselves are all members of the Assembly of Bishops and meet regularly.  The goal is to unify the North American Church into one jurisdiction, for which we all pray.  But even though we report to different bishops, the faith is identical.  Some of the churches have different customs which vary from place to place, but the liturgy (our services), our prayers, our faith, etc., are identical, and I, as a Ukrainian Orthodox, can walk into a Greek Orthodox or Antiochian Orthodox, for example, and receive Holy Communion (provided that I am prepared).  A Roman Catholic or a Protestant could not do this, unless he or she became Orthodox.

English language use depends on the percentage of converts and/or third, fourth, etc., generations from the immigrants who attend the parish.  If the parish is still highly populated by immigrants it will likely use the ancestral tongue more heavily (that stands to reason).  

There are a lot of theories about how to relate to the non-Orthodox, such as the Roman Catholics, Protestants, etc.  Roman Catholics follow the Pope of Rome, who was originally a bishop in the one holy Orthodox Catholic Church, but who, with his jurisdiction, broke off in a lengthy process of divergence of faith and practice about 1000 years ago.  (I don't like to date it to 1054 because it was a big development.  In some rural provinces of Poland/Ukraine, for example, I've found evidence that the church was in communion with both Rome and Constantinople into the 14th century.)  Anyway, there is much written on this subject.  Rome broke from the Orthodox and the Protestants broke from Rome.  As this happened, these churches got further and further from the deposit of faith which resides in the Holy Orthodox Church founded by Christ.  But I don't think it is for us to say exactly what they possess in terms of grace and sacraments.  What they have, they have through God's mercy, but where they contradict Orthodox teaching, there is error.  I personally see much beauty there and sincere striving to follow Christ and I pray that these faithful may someday be reunited with the Orthodox Church.

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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2013, 09:04:00 PM »

hey cool! I found a church locator. Turns out there is a Ukranian Orthodox just under an hour away. That other one I was thinking of is Greek and it is only 1:15.

Matthew,

If you want to attend a canonical Eastern Orthodox Church (which is in communion with all of the Orthodox), make sure that the Ukrainian Church is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.  The hierarchs should be listed as Metropolitan Antony and/or Bishop Daniel.  There has been a schism in Ukraine and some of the non-canonical churches have established parishes here in the USA.  There are only a few such, however.  That's a topic for another day. 
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2013, 09:54:47 PM »


The bishops themselves are all members of the Assembly of Bishops and meet regularly.


To what degree do the parishes answer to the bishops, do they send delegations to a meeting, or something?


Rome broke from the Orthodox and the Protestants broke from Rome.  

The Romans and Easterns both claim to be the original and that the other broke away from them. The fact that the Eastern one never had any major splits as the Roman did indicates to me that the Eastern was the original.

Matthew,

If you want to attend a canonical Eastern Orthodox Church (which is in communion with all of the Orthodox), make sure that the Ukrainian Church is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.  The hierarchs should be listed as Metropolitan Antony and/or Bishop Daniel.  There has been a schism in Ukraine and some of the non-canonical churches have established parishes here in the USA.  There are only a few such, however.  That's a topic for another day.  

Yeah, I'm not sure. They don't have a website as they are a small country parish. I found it at orthodoxyinamerica.org, if that means anything.
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2013, 10:57:49 PM »

It does good website.
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2013, 12:23:32 AM »

I know some people do "internet church", but I think face-to-face fellowship with other believers is vital to ones faith. I can't say I am anywhere near ready for that leap yet.

I know EO and RC have their differences that are actually pretty big, but they also have a lot of similarities and were at one time part of the same church. How big of a deal would it be to join a RC considering that it is so much more available? Does the EO see the RC as a part of the true church? For that matter, how does the EO view protestant churches?

RUFUS- How did those people come to be Orthodox if there weren't any around? Were they immigrants from another country where Orthodoxy was more prevalent? I will likely make a trip one day to go visit one.

They were immigrants and children of immigrants.

Actually, fifty years ago in the US, the idea of someone becoming Orthodox was unheard-of... the Orthodox churches were the "Greek churches" or whatever "ethnicity." Today, the Orthodox are much more Americanized, so converts are not so uncommon now. However, there are still many Orthodox churches that are largely made up of immigrants (Orthodox countries have not exactly been having a tea party recently).

As a result, Orthodox parishes in the US can be rather different from one another, and if you visit one, it's helpful to know what country the community originally came from.
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2013, 12:45:09 AM »

I see there seem to be varying sects of Orthodox (Greek, Russian, OCA, etc.) Where can I find a summary of the differences or comparison of these or are they all generally the same? Depending which one I went to, would that affect whether it was spoken in English or not?

The only material differences to a layman have to do with liturgical details and other customs. Some jurisdictions also tend to be more strict than others.

All Orthodox hold to the same core doctrine. There are some very subtle differences between jurisdictions, but they are not substantial. For example, some jurisdictions require a convert from another Christian denomination to be baptized while others don't.

Finding a parish that uses English is hit-or-miss. The OCA and Antiochian parishes are most likely to use English, but I see that there are none near you. You'll have to just see what you can find.
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2013, 12:48:10 AM »

How big of a deal would it be to join a RC considering that it is so much more available?
Same deal as joining any other religion that is not Orthodox Christianity.

Quote
Does the EO see the RC as a part of the true church?
No.

Quote
For that matter, how does the EO view protestant churches?
Same as we view Catholics.

Oh, so you and the Orthodox in general think that Catholics are the same as Zeus-worshippers?

I don't think so.
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2013, 05:12:05 AM »

It does good website.

Kinda outdated sometimes. This one is more up-to-date: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/parishes
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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2013, 07:38:47 AM »


The bishops themselves are all members of the Assembly of Bishops and meet regularly.


To what degree do the parishes answer to the bishops, do they send delegations to a meeting, or something?


Rome broke from the Orthodox and the Protestants broke from Rome.  

The Romans and Easterns both claim to be the original and that the other broke away from them. The fact that the Eastern one never had any major splits as the Roman did indicates to me that the Eastern was the original.

Matthew,

If you want to attend a canonical Eastern Orthodox Church (which is in communion with all of the Orthodox), make sure that the Ukrainian Church is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.  The hierarchs should be listed as Metropolitan Antony and/or Bishop Daniel.  There has been a schism in Ukraine and some of the non-canonical churches have established parishes here in the USA.  There are only a few such, however.  That's a topic for another day.  

Yeah, I'm not sure. They don't have a website as they are a small country parish. I found it at orthodoxyinamerica.org, if that means anything.

1.  The ancient principle of the church is that "where the bishop is, there is the Church."  See the writings of the holy father Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans.  St. Ignatius (ca. 35? - ca. 117?) was a disciple of the Apostle John and served as the third Bishop of Antioch (the ruins of which are now on the Turkish-Syrian border).  So we take what he says to be very important.  Anyway, you can read his writings more fully online.  But the point is that, as near as we can tell, in the early days each church was drawn from a region of people and was led by the bishop, who conducted divine services.  Soon, however, these communities multiplied so much that the bishop couldn't be in all of the places at once.  So he deputized presbyters (priests) to serve the liturgy in his place.  Thus, the priest acts only in place of the bishop and is answerable to his bishop in all things.  Theoretically, he can do nothing without the permission of his bishop.  In modern times, bishops generally give priests latitude to run the more mundane aspects of their parishes (most parishes here have a parish council of laypeople to assist the priest).  The bishop must be consulted for more substantive actions, and the bishop makes it a point to visit the parishes in his territory regularly.  (In the Ukrainian tradition, as in others, I'm sure, this is beautiful; as the bishop approaches the church the bells are rung and he is greeted with the traditional gifts of bread and salt as he enters the church).  At least in our tradition, every year there is a Sobor (a council) which is held, led by the bishops, and to which the parishes all send delegates, both clergy and lay.  There, important decisions are taken concerning the life of the church.  These meetings cannot be used to alter doctrine, or anything of that sort; considerations of the faith of the church are taken only by the bishops meeting together in council.

2.  There were several groups who, in the judgment of the Eastern Orthodox, left the Orthodox Church throughout its history.  This is complicated.

a.  In the years following 431 (the Council of Ephesus), the Church of the East (encompassing Persia/India) broke communion over the Council's declaration that Christ was one person with human and divine natures and thus Mary can be called the "Mother of God."  These Christians today are the rather small Assyrian Church of the East and a small branch are the Ancient Church of the East (under a different hierarch) and were predominantly in Iraq and Persia, but the Iraq War has decimated their ranks and caused many to flee.  In the 16th century some joined with Rome but kept their ceremonies and are known as the Chaldean Catholic Church.

b.  In the years following 451 (the Council of Chalcedon), numerous churches broke with the Eastern Orthodox because they could not agree with the Council's definition on the relationship between the two natures of Christ (human and divine).  These churches are known as the Oriental Orthodox Churches or the Non-Chalcedonian Churches.  They include the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (in India, founded by St. Thomas the Apostle), and the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.  Although the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox are not in communion, in recent years, diligent labors have been undertaken to determine the differences and understanding.  It is generally now recognized that the two churches may have been trying to define the same thing using slightly different words and that this, plus political differences, are the reason behind the split.  Because they have been out of communion for 1500 years, however, it will take some time to resolve all of the differences that have arisen since that time.

c.  In the Middle Ages, the Roman Church began to develop different doctrines and practices which became out of harmony with those of the other Orthodox Churches.  Communication was strained, and the relationship was broken when the Roman Church inserted a phrase into the creed unilaterally (that the Holy Spirit proceeded both from the Father and the Son), when the Pope of Rome asserted supremacy over the other Orthodox bishops in all matters, when the legates of the Pope of Rome excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople in the year 1054, and when zealous Catholic Crusaders sacked the city of Constantinople in 1204, defiling the holy places and setting up a Latin Patriarch who reported to Rome.  In my mind this split was final around the time that the Council of Florence (1439) tried to reunify the sides, was initially accepted by many of the bishops, but was rejected outright by the Orthodox faithful at home when they learned that they would have to accept all manner of Roman innovation.  Some portions of Orthodox Churches, for political and sometimes theological reasons, accepted the authority of Rome and its theology while being permitted to maintain their own rites.  They are known as the "Greek Catholic Churches" or the "Eastern Catholic Churches," and came from both Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox communions.  Dialogue between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches began in earnest in the 1960s and continues today.  You may have heard that, for the first time in history, the Patriarch of Constantinople attended the inauguration of the Pope of Rome.  But we differ with the Roman Catholics on many important points of doctrine and it will take considerable effort to see how much can be resolved through semantics and how much is truly a difference of faith which must be strongly considered.

d.  Another group is worth mentioning.  In the mid-17th century, Patriarch Nikon of Moscow attempted to reform the Russian Orthodox liturgy to bring it in line with the liturgy as then practiced by the Greek Orthodox Church.  He did this because he mistakenly believed that the Greek liturgy was older when, in fact, it had itself been revised in some points.  A group of people, unwilling to accept the validity of the Greek liturgy (and the revised Russian liturgy), broke off and became known as the "Old Believers."  They have since split and split again; some have priests, some don't, etc.  They exist in Russia and some are in the USA now.  Some of them have since reunited with canonical Orthodoxy.

e.  In the 20th century there are some who have declined to remain in communion with the Eastern Orthodox because of the changes to the calendar and perceived ecumenical efforts.  They are often called the "Old Calendarists."

3.  Use the site www.assemblyofbishops.org.  If the parish doesn't have a website, e-mail or call (even better) the number listed to confirm the service times.  If you explain your interest and the priest knows you're coming he may be able to set aside some more time to talk with you if you'd like.  You'll probably be able to catch him at the coffee hour after church (almost all of our parishes have one, in my experience) but he is very busy and it might be good to let him know ahead of time so he'd be more prepared to be available to answer your questions.  I invite you to try the Ukrainian parish.  Our traditions are beautiful (as are the others, I'm sure) and our melodies are more European-sounding so might be more familiar to your ear.  The language of the parish will probably depend on how many immigrants are in the church.  It might be split, as well, with some prayers in English and some in Ukrainian.  You might want to call the priest and ask.  In any event, most churches have service books printed in both languages so you can follow along, if need be.

Please let us know if you have other questions or if we can help you in your quest to discover more about the Orthodox Church!


Thanks for getting back on topic---great post BTW!  Thomas Convert Issues Forum Moderator
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« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2013, 07:42:47 AM »

That's a great post, Yurysprudentsiya.
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« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2013, 07:43:24 AM »

I know some people do "internet church", but I think face-to-face fellowship with other believers is vital to ones faith. I can't say I am anywhere near ready for that leap yet.

I know EO and RC have their differences that are actually pretty big, but they also have a lot of similarities and were at one time part of the same church. How big of a deal would it be to join a RC considering that it is so much more available? Does the EO see the RC as a part of the true church? For that matter, how does the EO view protestant churches?

RUFUS- How did those people come to be Orthodox if there weren't any around? Were they immigrants from another country where Orthodoxy was more prevalent? I will likely make a trip one day to go visit one.

They were immigrants and children of immigrants.

Actually, fifty years ago in the US, the idea of someone becoming Orthodox was unheard-of... the Orthodox churches were the "Greek churches" or whatever "ethnicity." Today, the Orthodox are much more Americanized, so converts are not so uncommon now. However, there are still many Orthodox churches that are largely made up of immigrants (Orthodox countries have not exactly been having a tea party recently).

As a result, Orthodox parishes in the US can be rather different from one another, and if you visit one, it's helpful to know what country the community originally came from.

Or even what province of what country.

ACROD Parishes are generally English speaking these days also.
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« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2013, 07:48:07 AM »

That's a great post, Yurysprudentsiya.

You beat me to it. It is a blessing to read an explanation that is balanced and doesn't tout one tradition within Orthodoxy over another, while putting in a gentle plug for your own! Thank you!
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« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2013, 10:41:52 AM »

I know some people do "internet church", but I think face-to-face fellowship with other believers is vital to ones faith. I can't say I am anywhere near ready for that leap yet.

I know EO and RC have their differences that are actually pretty big, but they also have a lot of similarities and were at one time part of the same church. How big of a deal would it be to join a RC considering that it is so much more available? Does the EO see the RC as a part of the true church? For that matter, how does the EO view protestant churches?

RUFUS- How did those people come to be Orthodox if there weren't any around? Were they immigrants from another country where Orthodoxy was more prevalent? I will likely make a trip one day to go visit one.

They were immigrants and children of immigrants.

Actually, fifty years ago in the US, the idea of someone becoming Orthodox was unheard-of... the Orthodox churches were the "Greek churches" or whatever "ethnicity." Today, the Orthodox are much more Americanized, so converts are not so uncommon now. However, there are still many Orthodox churches that are largely made up of immigrants (Orthodox countries have not exactly been having a tea party recently).

As a result, Orthodox parishes in the US can be rather different from one another, and if you visit one, it's helpful to know what country the community originally came from.

Or even what province of what country.

ACROD Parishes are generally English speaking these days also.

Yes, a nearby parish with remarkable internal problems has replaced the women-on-the-left men-on-the-right thing with Macedonians on the left and Epirots on the right. And you do not cross sides.
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« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2013, 10:42:55 AM »

Yes, a nearby parish with remarkable internal problems has replaced the women-on-the-left men-on-the-right thing with Macedonians on the left and Epirots on the right. And you do not cross sides.

Really? That's weird.
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« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2013, 10:52:36 AM »

There were several groups who, in the judgment of the Eastern Orthodox, left the Orthodox Church throughout its history.  This is complicated.

So I guess my appeal to lack of schisms as evidence of the true church has been shattered  Grin... What would an EO say are the marks of a true church?

I don't know if I've ever clarified, but I am currently protestant- been apart of several traditions, but mostly Baptist. (Actually, tradition used loosely- most people I know view tradition as dull and lifeless and would be offended at the suggestion they followed any kind of tradition.) We would say the marks of a true church are that they preach the Gospel- full divinity/humanity of Jesus, salvation through faith in his payment for our sins on the cross (of course followed by repentance), his resurrection, and the proof of faith by a changed, spirit-filled life.  That pretty much leaves the door wide open for many various ways of "doing church". Given the smorgasboard of denominations, I'm sure you can understand how important it would be for a protestant to ask these kinds of questions. We wouldn't say (at least in theory) that we have our theology all figured out, so we have to be open to change and to be teachable (hard thing for a lot of Baptists, I know Grin), but we take pride in our shortcomings.

Rufus- you're funny!
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« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2013, 11:04:45 AM »

There were several groups who, in the judgment of the Eastern Orthodox, left the Orthodox Church throughout its history.  This is complicated.

So I guess my appeal to lack of schisms as evidence of the true church has been shattered  Grin... What would an EO say are the marks of a true church?

I don't know if I've ever clarified, but I am currently protestant- been apart of several traditions, but mostly Baptist. (Actually, tradition used loosely- most people I know view tradition as dull and lifeless and would be offended at the suggestion they followed any kind of tradition.) We would say the marks of a true church are that they preach the Gospel- full divinity/humanity of Jesus, salvation through faith in his payment for our sins on the cross (of course followed by repentance), his resurrection, and the proof of faith by a changed, spirit-filled life.  That pretty much leaves the door wide open for many various ways of "doing church". Given the smorgasboard of denominations, I'm sure you can understand how important it would be for a protestant to ask these kinds of questions. We wouldn't say (at least in theory) that we have our theology all figured out, so we have to be open to change and to be teachable (hard thing for a lot of Baptists, I know Grin), but we take pride in our shortcomings.

Rufus- you're funny!

The schisms within Orthodoxy are not deeply rooted in belief and doctrine as in the west, they deal with more minutiae and are often unfathomable to non eastern Christians. The groups which truly departed Orthodoxy, like the 'Skoptsy'  -   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skoptsy  -  were few in number and even fewer in actual adherents compared to the myriad divisions within Protestantism.
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« Reply #27 on: July 02, 2013, 11:59:27 AM »

There were several groups who, in the judgment of the Eastern Orthodox, left the Orthodox Church throughout its history.  This is complicated.

So I guess my appeal to lack of schisms as evidence of the true church has been shattered  Grin... What would an EO say are the marks of a true church?

I don't know if I've ever clarified, but I am currently protestant- been apart of several traditions, but mostly Baptist. (Actually, tradition used loosely- most people I know view tradition as dull and lifeless and would be offended at the suggestion they followed any kind of tradition.) We would say the marks of a true church are that they preach the Gospel- full divinity/humanity of Jesus, salvation through faith in his payment for our sins on the cross (of course followed by repentance), his resurrection, and the proof of faith by a changed, spirit-filled life.  That pretty much leaves the door wide open for many various ways of "doing church". Given the smorgasboard of denominations, I'm sure you can understand how important it would be for a protestant to ask these kinds of questions. We wouldn't say (at least in theory) that we have our theology all figured out, so we have to be open to change and to be teachable (hard thing for a lot of Baptists, I know Grin), but we take pride in our shortcomings.

Rufus- you're funny!

I think that to answer this question you need to begin at the beginning.   As a Baptist, you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  So we can start there.  I presume that you believe what he teaches is true.  So we start with His promise to create a Church against which the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18) and which will be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. (John 16:13). 

Then we have Acts showing how this church was founded.  We have Paul telling us it is the pillar and ground of truth.  (1 Tim. 3:15).  So far, so good.  We see from the New Testament that this church had bishops/presbyters and deacons, that they met according to regions, that their leaders were ordained by laying on of apostolic hands, etc.  We know that they often celebrated the Eucharist, believed that it was the Lord's body and blood, and that it must be received following preparation (1 Cor. 11:23-34). 

Where did this church go?  We have the next generation, people like Polycarp, Ignatius, and the generation after that, such as Justin Martyr, leading the church.  Read their writings online and you'll see them talk about the church.  They all learned from the Apostles.  They describe the same kind of church, a visible organization led by those ordained in the line of succession from the Apostles by laying on of hands, teaching the same faith received from the Apostles.  Read the Didache, a very early document, to see a description of the church in the early second century.

At this time there was of course no compiled Bible.  Instead the church had the oral teaching of Christ and the Apostles passed down through Holy Tradition.  This was their yardstick to measure truth.  See 2 Tim. 1:13-14 and 2:1-2.  See also 2 Thess. 2:15.  If a letter was received the church determined if it accorded with tradition.  If it was faithful to what Christ taught they received it for use in worship.  So the canon of Scriptire was formed. 

Thus, it went this way:
1.   Christ through the Apostles gave us the Church by the Holy Spirit.
2.  The Church preserved the teaching of Christ faithfully as its Tradition.
3.  If a writing appeared the church accepted it for public reading if it was faithful to the received Tradition of the Church.

Over time groups split from the Church but we can't call them schisms.  That would imply that the church is split.  That's impossible according to Christs promise.  Is Christ divided?  (1 Cor. 1:13).  Those who split have simply left the Church.  Now they may, by God's mercy, have some of the deposit of faith and there may be much good there.  But they no longer have protection against error.  But we do not know the salvation of anyone.  I think personally perhaps it might be like the parable of the Talents and that they will be accountable for what they did with what they received.  It is certainly not our job to root out the tares from the wheat as another parable says but instead to work out our own salvation and to live as examples to those around us. 

So the true church for us is the original church which Christ established and which exists to this day according to his promise.  It needed no reform or revival, though many have found its teachings hard and turned aside from it.  Other churches are not the church by definition although there may be faithful Christians there.  We do not know and we do not judge.  We leave it to the Lord's mercy. 

It follows that we interpret the Bible according to the Church's received teaching.   

I hope this is a little bit helpful. 
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« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2013, 01:02:17 PM »

Those who split have simply left the Church.  Now they may, by God's mercy, have some of the deposit of faith and there may be much good there.  But they no longer have protection against error.  But we do not know the salvation of anyone... Other churches are not the church by definition although there may be faithful Christians there.  We do not know and we do not judge.  We leave it to the Lord's mercy. 

Very helpful, thanks for the clear explanation. I think this is pretty much the same argument the Romans use, but I think they might admit to schisms rather than people leaving the Church. I suppose the difference would be that maybe the Orthodox church uses the term "chose to leave" whereas the Catholics have actually excommunicated people.

So, to be clear, the Orthodox Church believes people can receive salvation outside of the church?

Maybe this is another topic, but kind of related to salvation... This has been a concern of many protestants, myself included, we often see churches like the Roman Catholic to be lacking in mature, godly believers who instead give lip service on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week. There is certainly hypocrisy in protestant churches too, but we have assumed that though people in Catholic churches can have a true faith, it isn't a very good place to grow in maturity and Christ-likeness, I think, because the focus is often on the rituals, formulas, and legalistically following a list of rules- always looking for a loophole- and not on the preaching and exposition of the Word, which according to 2Tim3:16-17 is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

Maybe we are judging Catholics unfairly, judging by those who do not practice their faith instead of the ones who actually do. I suppose we just assume the Orthodox is similar and probably because their churches are so scarce no one knows much about them. How does the Orthodox view discipleship? What does the growth process look like?
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« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2013, 01:56:13 PM »

Those who split have simply left the Church.  Now they may, by God's mercy, have some of the deposit of faith and there may be much good there.  But they no longer have protection against error.  But we do not know the salvation of anyone... Other churches are not the church by definition although there may be faithful Christians there.  We do not know and we do not judge.  We leave it to the Lord's mercy. 

Very helpful, thanks for the clear explanation. I think this is pretty much the same argument the Romans use, but I think they might admit to schisms rather than people leaving the Church. I suppose the difference would be that maybe the Orthodox church uses the term "chose to leave" whereas the Catholics have actually excommunicated people.

So, to be clear, the Orthodox Church believes people can receive salvation outside of the church?
We do not say dogmatically yes or no.  That is only known to God.  We pray for the salvation of everyone though, and hope that God will grant salvation to all mankind.

Quote
Maybe this is another topic, but kind of related to salvation... This has been a concern of many protestants, myself included, we often see churches like the Roman Catholic to be lacking in mature, godly believers who instead give lip service on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week. There is certainly hypocrisy in protestant churches too, but we have assumed that though people in Catholic churches can have a true faith, it isn't a very good place to grow in maturity and Christ-likeness, I think, because the focus is often on the rituals, formulas, and legalistically following a list of rules- always looking for a loophole- and not on the preaching and exposition of the Word, which according to 2Tim3:16-17 is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

Maybe we are judging Catholics unfairly, judging by those who do not practice their faith instead of the ones who actually do. I suppose we just assume the Orthodox is similar and probably because their churches are so scarce no one knows much about them. How does the Orthodox view discipleship? What does the growth process look like?
There are protestants, Catholics and Orthodox who take their faith very seriously and also those who do not. In Orthodoxy, discipleship is taken very seriously and it is standard to have godparents who will help guide you in the faith as well as a spiritual father (often but not always your priest) who is responsible for your spritual wellbeing. I would guess Catholics would probably make the same claim, but I think it would be more difficult for their priests to be true spiritual fathers because there is such a shortage of Catholic priests that they are rather overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Orthodox parishes are USUALLY smaller than their Catholic counterparts, at least in the US.
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« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2013, 01:58:49 PM »

Those who split have simply left the Church.  Now they may, by God's mercy, have some of the deposit of faith and there may be much good there.  But they no longer have protection against error.  But we do not know the salvation of anyone... Other churches are not the church by definition although there may be faithful Christians there.  We do not know and we do not judge.  We leave it to the Lord's mercy. 

Very helpful, thanks for the clear explanation. I think this is pretty much the same argument the Romans use, but I think they might admit to schisms rather than people leaving the Church. I suppose the difference would be that maybe the Orthodox church uses the term "chose to leave" whereas the Catholics have actually excommunicated people.

So, to be clear, the Orthodox Church believes people can receive salvation outside of the church?

This is a rather complicated issue, and you will get a broad range of answers depending on who you ask. Also, not everyone defines "the Church" in the same way.

The contemporary trend is to say that salvation is possible outside of the visible boundaries of the Church. The thing is, the Church, properly defined, is all of the people of God, which means that Church=saved. So you can pick out two senses in which the term "Church" is used, which some Orthodox would feel uneasy about.

Search the forum (use Google--the forum search engine is terrible) and you'll find a whole bunch of threads dealing with this question, which has been beaten to death here.

Quote
Maybe this is another topic, but kind of related to salvation... This has been a concern of many protestants, myself included, we often see churches like the Roman Catholic to be lacking in mature, godly believers who instead give lip service on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week. There is certainly hypocrisy in protestant churches too, but we have assumed that though people in Catholic churches can have a true faith, it isn't a very good place to grow in maturity and Christ-likeness, I think, because the focus is often on the rituals, formulas, and legalistically following a list of rules- always looking for a loophole- and not on the preaching and exposition of the Word, which according to 2Tim3:16-17 is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

Maybe we are judging Catholics unfairly, judging by those who do not practice their faith instead of the ones who actually do. I suppose we just assume the Orthodox is similar and probably because their churches are so scarce no one knows much about them. How does the Orthodox view discipleship? What does the growth process look like?

This is where the Orthodox are weak. Discipleship nearly doesn't exist, except in monastic establishments. It is a problem.

I have seen Orthodox doing discipleship and been a part of it; it is just uncommon.

At any given parish, you will probably find that many of the people are astoundingly ignorant of doctrine and the Bible. This is partly because almost all of them are Orthodox out of family tradition, partly because of lack of catechism, partly because of the increasing religious indifference of people today, and partly because the Orthodox came from countries where pretty much everyone was an illiterate peasant.

So there is some housecleaning to do in these areas.
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« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2013, 02:05:25 PM »

So, to be clear, the Orthodox Church believes people can receive salvation outside of the church?

Fwiw, something I posted a while back on here...

What happens to the non-Orthodox on judgment day?

Short Answer: I don't know. And I won't until judgment day. And I'm pretty sure when that day comes it will be a case-by-case basis, such that you can't speak of all Orthodox being judged this way or all non-Orthodox being judged that way. God will judge each of us based on our heart and our deeds, and while our ecclesiastical affiliation is an important factor in how we work out our salvation, it is not the deciding one.

Long Answer: Salvation resides in the Church. Yet it is possible for people who were never formally part of the Church to be saved. How can these two things be reconciled? I don't know. Met. Kallistos says that "We know where the Church is but we cannot be sure where it is not." (The Orthodox Church, p. 308) And earlier Khomiakov expressed a similar idea:

Quote
The Church visible, or upon earth, lives in complete communion and unity with the whole body of the Church, of which Christ is the Head. She has abiding within her Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit in all their living fullness, but not in the fullness of their manifestation, for she acts and knows not fully, but only so far as it pleases God. Inasmuch as the earthly and visible Church is not the fullness and completeness of the whole Church which the Lord has appointed to appear at the final judgment of all creation, she acts and knows only within her own limits; and (according to the words of Paul the Apostle, to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 5. 12) does not judge the rest of mankind, and only looks upon those as excluded, that is to say, not belonging to her, who exclude themselves. The rest of mankind, whether alien from the Church, or united to her by ties which God has not willed to reveal to her, she leaves to the judgment of the great day.

-- Alexei Khomiakov, The Church is One, p. 11

How can such people be saved? Will they have the Gospel revealed to them after their death, in the same way that we say it was revealed to the people from Old Testament times? Will they then be given a choice at a later date? Heb. 9:27 says: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." Does this exclude the possibility of such revelation of preaching after death? Or is there some flexibility in this, with the passage not giving a precise outline of how things will go?

Another option is that God will judge people based on how they responded to God's revelation to them in this world, however incomplete that might be. Thus we find it said in Ps. 14:1 that: "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God," and in another place the Psalmist says: "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge." (Ps. 19:1-2)

And St. Paul, seeming to speak on just this matter, say in his letter to the Romans: "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:14-16)  And in another place: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20)

So where does this leave us? There is only one unforgivable sin (Matt. 12:31-32), but just because someone can be forgiven that doesn't mean that they will be forgiven. And Jesus said of the narrow way that "there are few who find it." (Matt. 7:13-14) On the other hand, God wants nothing other than for us to be saved. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4)  God gives us the grace (Phil. 2:13), so that if we cooperate with him (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1), insofar as we understand how, and move towards him, then he will move towards us. (Ps. 145:18; James 3:Cool. We need only cry out to God, to the extent and in the way that we can: "Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end." (Ps. 119:33)

None of this is meant to minimize that salvation comes through Christ. Indeed, the entire work of Christ is the only reason anyone can possibly be saved. All I am saying is that an exact understanding has not been given to us as to what will happen to whom on judgment day. Thus we return to the beginning: what will happen to non-Orthodox on judgment day? I don't know. Just like I don't know what will happen to each Orthodox person. But to give a quote of St. Theophan the Recluse, who was in turn quoted by Met. Philaret:

Quote
You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins

-- Source
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« Reply #32 on: July 02, 2013, 02:14:29 PM »


This is where the Orthodox are weak. Discipleship nearly doesn't exist, except in monastic establishments. It is a problem.

I have seen Orthodox doing discipleship and been a part of it; it is just uncommon.

At any given parish, you will probably find that many of the people are astoundingly ignorant of doctrine and the Bible. This is partly because almost all of them are Orthodox out of family tradition, partly because of lack of catechism, partly because of the increasing religious indifference of people today, and partly because the Orthodox came from countries where pretty much everyone was an illiterate peasant.

So there is some housecleaning to do in these areas.

Interesting, that has not been my experience at all, Rufus.
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« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2013, 02:47:04 PM »

Those who split have simply left the Church.  Now they may, by God's mercy, have some of the deposit of faith and there may be much good there.  But they no longer have protection against error.  But we do not know the salvation of anyone... Other churches are not the church by definition although there may be faithful Christians there.  We do not know and we do not judge.  We leave it to the Lord's mercy. 

Very helpful, thanks for the clear explanation. I think this is pretty much the same argument the Romans use, but I think they might admit to schisms rather than people leaving the Church. I suppose the difference would be that maybe the Orthodox church uses the term "chose to leave" whereas the Catholics have actually excommunicated people.

So, to be clear, the Orthodox Church believes people can receive salvation outside of the church?

Maybe this is another topic, but kind of related to salvation... This has been a concern of many protestants, myself included, we often see churches like the Roman Catholic to be lacking in mature, godly believers who instead give lip service on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week. There is certainly hypocrisy in protestant churches too, but we have assumed that though people in Catholic churches can have a true faith, it isn't a very good place to grow in maturity and Christ-likeness, I think, because the focus is often on the rituals, formulas, and legalistically following a list of rules- always looking for a loophole- and not on the preaching and exposition of the Word, which according to 2Tim3:16-17 is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

Maybe we are judging Catholics unfairly, judging by those who do not practice their faith instead of the ones who actually do. I suppose we just assume the Orthodox is similar and probably because their churches are so scarce no one knows much about them. How does the Orthodox view discipleship? What does the growth process look like?

1.  The idea of schisms has proved problematic for the Catholic Church.  You get groups such as the Old Catholics who are hardly distinguishable from Protestants in some points but are admitted to communion and viewed as part of the church because their bishops have apostolic succession at least in name.  We don't have that.  If they start going off the rails they have departed from the church. 

2.  We have very strict discipleship.  I'm not sure what Rufus has seen but his experience shows that we are imperfect.  Our church teaches the opposite of legalism although we have many rules.  Christ came as the Great Physician, to heal that wounded by sin.  The Apostles did the same.  See how Paul served as a spiritual father to Timothy.  So too we must seek out a spiritual father, a wise practitioner, to help us.  Usually this is the parish priest although it could be a monk or nun.  We go to the spiritual father and share our imperfections.   He, if a priest, pronounces absolution.  If our confessor is not a priest we must still go to the priest for absolution.  The spiritual father will get to know us well and will give us right medicine to help us fight our sin.  Here is the opposite of legalism.  The fasting rules say we should keep a vegan fast Wednesday and Friday and other times to help us on prayer.  The fast does
Not save us but is a tool to help us to salvation through controlling the passions in prayer. Maybe we are new or weak so maybe our spiritual father will lessen the fast for us or maybe will add something to it if he knows something is causing us to sin. He has to be able to tell what will help us to salvation, not hinder us. 
By these things we grow, doing what we are able.  We do not get good points for fasting or confessing.  It is to help us become Christlike and can be adjusted from the base line as needs require. 

Does everybody do this?   No.  But the point is that through the church these tools are there for our salvation. We can choose to use them or not. 
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« Reply #34 on: July 02, 2013, 02:55:17 PM »

Those who split have simply left the Church.  Now they may, by God's mercy, have some of the deposit of faith and there may be much good there.  But they no longer have protection against error.  But we do not know the salvation of anyone... Other churches are not the church by definition although there may be faithful Christians there.  We do not know and we do not judge.  We leave it to the Lord's mercy. 

Very helpful, thanks for the clear explanation. I think this is pretty much the same argument the Romans use, but I think they might admit to schisms rather than people leaving the Church. I suppose the difference would be that maybe the Orthodox church uses the term "chose to leave" whereas the Catholics have actually excommunicated people.

So, to be clear, the Orthodox Church believes people can receive salvation outside of the church?

Maybe this is another topic, but kind of related to salvation... This has been a concern of many protestants, myself included, we often see churches like the Roman Catholic to be lacking in mature, godly believers who instead give lip service on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week. There is certainly hypocrisy in protestant churches too, but we have assumed that though people in Catholic churches can have a true faith, it isn't a very good place to grow in maturity and Christ-likeness, I think, because the focus is often on the rituals, formulas, and legalistically following a list of rules- always looking for a loophole- and not on the preaching and exposition of the Word, which according to 2Tim3:16-17 is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

Maybe we are judging Catholics unfairly, judging by those who do not practice their faith instead of the ones who actually do. I suppose we just assume the Orthodox is similar and probably because their churches are so scarce no one knows much about them. How does the Orthodox view discipleship? What does the growth process look like?

1.  The idea of schisms has proved problematic for the Catholic Church.  You get groups such as the Old Catholics who are hardly distinguishable from Protestants in some points but are admitted to communion and viewed as part of the church because their bishops have apostolic succession at least in name.  We don't have that.  If they start going off the rails they have departed from the church. 

2.  We have very strict discipleship.  I'm not sure what Rufus has seen but his experience shows that we are imperfect.  Our church teaches the opposite of legalism although we have many rules.  Christ came as the Great Physician, to heal that wounded by sin.  The Apostles did the same.  See how Paul served as a spiritual father to Timothy.  So too we must seek out a spiritual father, a wise practitioner, to help us.  Usually this is the parish priest although it could be a monk or nun.  We go to the spiritual father and share our imperfections.   He, if a priest, pronounces absolution.  If our confessor is not a priest we must still go to the priest for absolution.  The spiritual father will get to know us well and will give us right medicine to help us fight our sin.  Here is the opposite of legalism.  The fasting rules say we should keep a vegan fast Wednesday and Friday and other times to help us on prayer.  The fast does
Not save us but is a tool to help us to salvation through controlling the passions in prayer. Maybe we are new or weak so maybe our spiritual father will lessen the fast for us or maybe will add something to it if he knows something is causing us to sin. He has to be able to tell what will help us to salvation, not hinder us. 
By these things we grow, doing what we are able.  We do not get good points for fasting or confessing.  It is to help us become Christlike and can be adjusted from the base line as needs require. 

Does everybody do this?   No.  But the point is that through the church these tools are there for our salvation. We can choose to use them or not. 



I should add that for us the goal of discipleship is union with the uncreated energies of God (not his essence).  We call this theosis.  It comes not from knowing about God but from knowing God.  All of the sacraments, prayers, and tools we have ate to help this process which God desires and which Christ died to make possible. 
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« Reply #35 on: July 02, 2013, 03:09:31 PM »


This is where the Orthodox are weak. Discipleship nearly doesn't exist, except in monastic establishments. It is a problem.

I have seen Orthodox doing discipleship and been a part of it; it is just uncommon.

At any given parish, you will probably find that many of the people are astoundingly ignorant of doctrine and the Bible. This is partly because almost all of them are Orthodox out of family tradition, partly because of lack of catechism, partly because of the increasing religious indifference of people today, and partly because the Orthodox came from countries where pretty much everyone was an illiterate peasant.

So there is some housecleaning to do in these areas.

Interesting, that has not been my experience at all, Rufus.

Nor mine. On the contrary, I have been chastened and humbled by the Orthodox Faithful, especially the yiayias, which it has been my privilege to meet.
Naturally there are always people who are less pious or devout or learned. But you find that everywhere.
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« Reply #36 on: July 02, 2013, 03:19:03 PM »


This is where the Orthodox are weak. Discipleship nearly doesn't exist, except in monastic establishments. It is a problem.

I have seen Orthodox doing discipleship and been a part of it; it is just uncommon.

At any given parish, you will probably find that many of the people are astoundingly ignorant of doctrine and the Bible. This is partly because almost all of them are Orthodox out of family tradition, partly because of lack of catechism, partly because of the increasing religious indifference of people today, and partly because the Orthodox came from countries where pretty much everyone was an illiterate peasant.

So there is some housecleaning to do in these areas.

Interesting, that has not been my experience at all, Rufus.

Nor mine. On the contrary, I have been chastened and humbled by the Orthodox Faithful, especially the yiayias, which it has been my privilege to meet.
Naturally there are always people who are less pious or devout or learned. But you find that everywhere.

Getting chastened by yiayias doesn't amount to discipleship. Discipleship happens one-on-one or among small groups of friends, and it involves having a close and transparent relationship with another person. It does exist within Orthodox parishes, but it's not widespread.

Really, most people aren't even ready for that sort of thing.

A serious godparent who is available is a huge blessing. Of course, converts are much more likely to be assigned such a figure than a baby is.
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« Reply #37 on: July 02, 2013, 03:19:12 PM »

I have been studying a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church and I understand their doctrines/theology very well.I am interested in hearing from the OC, but the problem is I live in a heavily RC community and the nearest OC is an hour and a half drive one way. Too far to really meet anyone  let alone to consider joining and being involved.

What do OC Christians do when they don't live anywhere near an Orthodox church? Maybe that is an unrealistic question because anyone who is Orthodox lives near an Orthodox church?

Matthew, be aware that I am only a lifelong Christian (baptized Roman Catholic) yet wandered in the protestant world after Vatican 2. The folks here have been great answering your various questions from their perspective. I will give you mine, still after over a year of being OUTSIDE and looking in. You write that you are considering 'joining' an OC church.

I thought so, too, back in Sep of 2012. Having attended faithfully (more faithfully than the EO membership) since Nov 2012 AND attending something called a faith class, I am no nearer being a catechumen/member/disciple than I was when I started reading about EO in Nov of 2011.

My experience is more of what Rufus is talking about. What discipleship? After 2000 years you'd figure they would have a set catechesis. Its all over the place with regards to WHAT you are to study, HOW LONG you are to study, no consideration if you walked out of a mosque yesterday or have been a faithful Christian all your life. Its been a very discouraging journey.

They will tell you here to talk to your priest, if he is not busy and not a dual career priest; or find a spiritual father, I believe they all died in Russia 200yrs ago.
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« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2013, 03:47:08 PM »

Its rather discouraging to hear that. I hope those are just isolated incidents and not widespread in the Church. In addition to catechumen class, my priest will email back and forth w/ me about questions I have and I would have no problem giving him a call just to talk.
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« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2013, 03:54:21 PM »


This is where the Orthodox are weak. Discipleship nearly doesn't exist, except in monastic establishments. It is a problem.

I have seen Orthodox doing discipleship and been a part of it; it is just uncommon.

At any given parish, you will probably find that many of the people are astoundingly ignorant of doctrine and the Bible. This is partly because almost all of them are Orthodox out of family tradition, partly because of lack of catechism, partly because of the increasing religious indifference of people today, and partly because the Orthodox came from countries where pretty much everyone was an illiterate peasant.

So there is some housecleaning to do in these areas.

Interesting, that has not been my experience at all, Rufus.

Nor mine. On the contrary, I have been chastened and humbled by the Orthodox Faithful, especially the yiayias, which it has been my privilege to meet.
Naturally there are always people who are less pious or devout or learned. But you find that everywhere.

Getting chastened by yiayias doesn't amount to discipleship. Discipleship happens one-on-one or among small groups of friends, and it involves having a close and transparent relationship with another person. It does exist within Orthodox parishes, but it's not widespread.

Really, most people aren't even ready for that sort of thing.

A serious godparent who is available is a huge blessing. Of course, converts are much more likely to be assigned such a figure than a baby is.

Sorry I was not more clear. Perhaps I should have said "been inspired by." I didn't mean "scolded by." Also, I believe that discipleship means following Christ - it doesn't have to happen only the way you describe.
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« Reply #40 on: July 02, 2013, 04:27:49 PM »

I have been studying a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church and I understand their doctrines/theology very well.I am interested in hearing from the OC, but the problem is I live in a heavily RC community and the nearest OC is an hour and a half drive one way. Too far to really meet anyone  let alone to consider joining and being involved.

What do OC Christians do when they don't live anywhere near an Orthodox church? Maybe that is an unrealistic question because anyone who is Orthodox lives near an Orthodox church?

Matthew, be aware that I am only a lifelong Christian (baptized Roman Catholic) yet wandered in the protestant world after Vatican 2. The folks here have been great answering your various questions from their perspective. I will give you mine, still after over a year of being OUTSIDE and looking in. You write that you are considering 'joining' an OC church.

I thought so, too, back in Sep of 2012. Having attended faithfully (more faithfully than the EO membership) since Nov 2012 AND attending something called a faith class, I am no nearer being a catechumen/member/disciple than I was when I started reading about EO in Nov of 2011.

My experience is more of what Rufus is talking about. What discipleship? After 2000 years you'd figure they would have a set catechesis. Its all over the place with regards to WHAT you are to study, HOW LONG you are to study, no consideration if you walked out of a mosque yesterday or have been a faithful Christian all your life. Its been a very discouraging journey.

They will tell you here to talk to your priest, if he is not busy and not a dual career priest; or find a spiritual father, I believe they all died in Russia 200yrs ago.

I know someone who had a very similar story. Eventually the parish got a new priest, and he immediately had her chrismated. So which priest you're dealing with can make a big difference.

To understand why things are like this, you've gotta look into the political history of the Orthodox Church.

Anyway, my point is not to poop on the Orthodox Church; I'm just trying to give Matthew79 an idea of what Orthodox churches are typically like so he can get his bearings.

And of course, we're just talking about the US, which is the fringe of the Orthodox world.
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« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2013, 06:18:43 PM »

I have been studying a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church and I understand their doctrines/theology very well.I am interested in hearing from the OC, but the problem is I live in a heavily RC community and the nearest OC is an hour and a half drive one way. Too far to really meet anyone  let alone to consider joining and being involved.

What do OC Christians do when they don't live anywhere near an Orthodox church? Maybe that is an unrealistic question because anyone who is Orthodox lives near an Orthodox church?

Matthew, be aware that I am only a lifelong Christian (baptized Roman Catholic) yet wandered in the protestant world after Vatican 2. The folks here have been great answering your various questions from their perspective. I will give you mine, still after over a year of being OUTSIDE and looking in. You write that you are considering 'joining' an OC church.

I thought so, too, back in Sep of 2012. Having attended faithfully (more faithfully than the EO membership) since Nov 2012 AND attending something called a faith class, I am no nearer being a catechumen/member/disciple than I was when I started reading about EO in Nov of 2011.

My experience is more of what Rufus is talking about. What discipleship? After 2000 years you'd figure they would have a set catechesis. Its all over the place with regards to WHAT you are to study, HOW LONG you are to study, no consideration if you walked out of a mosque yesterday or have been a faithful Christian all your life. Its been a very discouraging journey.

They will tell you here to talk to your priest, if he is not busy and not a dual career priest; or find a spiritual father, I believe they all died in Russia 200yrs ago.

Oh my.  This certainly isn't the case everywhere.  Without knowing your situation, have you raised these concerns directly with your priest?   Maybe it would be good to schedule an appointment to ask him just what is needed for you to be received into membership and what his thoughts are on your readiness and if he sees anything specific that you should work on.  His response might be helpful to you.  My experience is the opposite, parishes who love to see new faces and are eager to receive them, sometimes too eager perhaps. 

I don't believe in jurisdiction hopping by any means but if there is a real problem maybe there are Other Orthodox Churches nearby?  If there is a real problem and you can't work it out after trying maybe it is something to think about. 

Certainly there are good, although busy, spiritual fathers today.  Is there a monastery near you?  Even a short stay could prove refreshing and helpful.  But I'd recommend trying to get to the bottom of things with your current situation if you haven't directly approached with your questions and confusion.   That might give you some peace and correct any misunderstandings. 
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« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2013, 06:51:33 PM »

I am not sure how much I am considering joining an EO, but just trying to learn what they're all about.

Lately, I have been longing to find my roots and be connected to the early church. Protestant church history talks briefly about the first couple hundred years, but most of our history only goes back as far as Martin Luther. I have some frustrations with Protestantism in general. A couple years ago, my church's founding pastor had some anger issues and lashed out at some people in the congregation. Our elder board asked him to step down from leadership. So he goes across town and starts a new church of his own. He was denied membership in the conference that our church is apart of and thus, his new church has no accountability. I don't think I have to tell you how dangerous this is. On top of all that, our church is still supporting his new plant financially. The bigger problem is that you see this kind of thing happening all over Protestantism. American consumerism has infected the Church. People are quick to jump ship when they aren't growing or things don't go the way they think it should, assuming it is the leadership's fault, sometimes it is. Secondly, I have a lot of friends who are church planters and each of them struggles to figure out how to do things- how to order the worship service, how to do discipleship, how to do ministry, etc.. You would think that after over 2,000 years of church history God would have provided some model that has been proven effective. This is why I studied the RC and now looking into EO. Actually, I must admit, the current pastor of my church is pretty good with discipleship. He is committed to training up other leaders in the church and making sure every member has someone reaching out to them, that they know someone cares and is there to support them. We have always been known as "a sending church"- sending out church planters and missionaries all over the country and world.

What I like about the EO is they have a model for the order of worship that is relatively the same in every parish. And there is some solid accountability for doctrines. Depending on the condition of the EO's I find in my area, I may just end up staying where I am, but hopefully I will find them strong in discipleship as many of you claim they are. I would ask anyone to please pray about that for me.
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« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2013, 06:57:17 PM »

I am not sure how much I am considering joining an EO, but just trying to learn what they're all about.

Lately, I have been longing to find my roots and be connected to the early church. Protestant church history talks briefly about the first couple hundred years, but most of our history only goes back as far as Martin Luther. I have some frustrations with Protestantism in general. A couple years ago, my church's founding pastor had some anger issues and lashed out at some people in the congregation. Our elder board asked him to step down from leadership. So he goes across town and starts a new church of his own. He was denied membership in the conference that our church is apart of and thus, his new church has no accountability. I don't think I have to tell you how dangerous this is. On top of all that, our church is still supporting his new plant financially. The bigger problem is that you see this kind of thing happening all over Protestantism. American consumerism has infected the Church. People are quick to jump ship when they aren't growing or things don't go the way they think it should, assuming it is the leadership's fault, sometimes it is. Secondly, I have a lot of friends who are church planters and each of them struggles to figure out how to do things- how to order the worship service, how to do discipleship, how to do ministry, etc.. You would think that after over 2,000 years of church history God would have provided some model that has been proven effective. This is why I studied the RC and now looking into EO. Actually, I must admit, the current pastor of my church is pretty good with discipleship. He is committed to training up other leaders in the church and making sure every member has someone reaching out to them, that they know someone cares and is there to support them. We have always been known as "a sending church"- sending out church planters and missionaries all over the country and world.

What I like about the EO is they have a model for the order of worship that is relatively the same in every parish. And there is some solid accountability for doctrines. Depending on the condition of the EO's I find in my area, I may just end up staying where I am, but hopefully I will find them strong in discipleship as many of you claim they are. I would ask anyone to please pray about that for me.

I saw some (but not all) of these problems when I was a Protestant.  Please let us know how your visit goes.  And also any questions you might have !  Orthodoxy is trying to recover its mission mindedness.  Having been oppressed nearly everywhere for centuries it just focused on survival.  One huge exception is the missionary work to the native Alaskans.  Read about St Innocent of Alaska and you'll be inspired.  I know I was as I learned how he slept in a floating kayak traveling frigid seas for days to visit people. 
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« Reply #44 on: July 02, 2013, 07:06:35 PM »

You should definitely visit an Orthodox Liturgy and see the worship.  Liturgy (western or eastern) is such a wonderful blessing compared to standard evangelical worship.  At least I thought so.  It gives a sense of historical and geographical connectedness to the rest of the Church that is really missing in protestant traditions.

here's a video i found helpful on my journey:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-CJhPlmznA

if you've never heard of Francis Schaeffer (this is his son) then it may not matter to you, but he's a titan in the presbyterian church.


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