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Author Topic: Orthodox Christian Historiography and the Heterdox/Heretic  (Read 973 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 01, 2013, 03:37:56 PM »

Reading through the threads on the Reformation has led me to wonder exactly how Orthodox appraise the history of those who are in schism/heresy.

I would imagine the Orthodox would assume that once there is schism/heresy(disease) there can only be trouble and further erosion of tradition(cancer)?

Do Orthodox believe that there can be schism yet the disease of error can be "contained"?  I.e., the Roman Church could have maintained all the other orthodox traditions while asserting the Filoque and papal primacy?

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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 05:20:29 PM »

Someone who knows more than I do can give you a more thorough answer, but I'm not sure I understand your last statement.  I don't know what the advantage to containing the error could possibly be, since the error would still exist.  The error would need to be fixed, otherwise it is a false teaching that continues to be spread.
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2013, 05:37:54 PM »

Someone who knows more than I do can give you a more thorough answer, but I'm not sure I understand your last statement.  I don't know what the advantage to containing the error could possibly be, since the error would still exist.  The error would need to be fixed, otherwise it is a false teaching that continues to be spread.

What is the "nature" of error?  Does it multiply like cancer spreading to different organs?  Once you diverge from Holy Tradition in one way isn't it inevitable that you'll move further away? 

Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation?  Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2013, 05:39:37 PM »

Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

He should have become Orthodox.
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2013, 05:43:16 PM »

No matter whether you are 2m or 200m far from the boat. You will drown the same way.
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2013, 05:47:04 PM »

Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

He should have become Orthodox.

He should have either become Orthodox, or he should have remained loyal to the Pope. The Fathers teach that heresy and schism is the worst thing that can happen to the Church.

Although, I personally like what Luther did. If it wasn't for Luther, modern language wouldn't have developed into a literary form. We'd still be writing in Latin today if it wasn't for Luther. The Bible was printed in the vernacular and not in a language nobody can understand, like the Qur'an is.
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2013, 05:50:16 PM »

or he should have remained loyal to the Pope. The Fathers teach that heresy and schism is the worst thing that can happen to the Church.

Luther already was in heresy and schism before starting the Reformation.

We'd still be writing in Latin today if it wasn't for Luther.

Another reason to dislike Luther. Great.  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2013, 07:04:16 PM »

Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

He should have become Orthodox.

He should have either become Orthodox, or he should have remained loyal to the Pope [my italics]. The Fathers teach that heresy and schism is the worst thing that can happen to the Church.


From an Orthodox viewpoint, the latter part of the bolded statement makes little sense; the former and Cyrillic's post do.  

If heresy and schism are the worst things, then Martin Luther should have remained within a heretical and schismatic church?*

Although becoming Orthodox may not have been a particularly viable solution for Martin Luther, Cyrillic's statement both avoids the question and answers it.



* Please don't become too offended, hyper-sensitive readers.  "Heretical and schismatic" aren't meant pejoratively (if that's possible), but we do teach--both de jure and de facto, if you will--that the RCC has heretical beliefs and participated, in one form or another, in a schism from the true Church.  Arguing against this point exclusively, most likely belongs in a different thread.
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2013, 07:18:15 PM »


Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation? 


Because this was the gates of hell attempting to prevail against the Church.  This movement caused Christianity to hemorrhage into 32,000 doctrinally different sects, every one of them--since they turned their backs on the first Church, Christ's Church--necessarily false churches.  That's something to bemoan, no?
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2013, 07:20:00 PM »

No matter whether you are 2m or 200m far from the boat. You will drown the same way.

+1
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2013, 07:27:34 PM »

Although becoming Orthodox may not have been a particularly viable solution for Martin Luther, Cyrillic's statement both avoids the question and answers it.

We can argue that Luther's "remaining loyal to the Pope" would've made little sense from an Orthodox POV, but ISTM that there would've been some value to it if becoming Orthodox was truly not a viable solution for him.  While both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are not Orthodox, the latter is definitely closer to Orthodoxy than the former, and if faith matters at all, that has to count for something.  At least if the ecumenical councils are to be trusted.        
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2013, 07:28:49 PM »

Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation?  Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

They don't. This forum is just full of recent converts from Evangelicalism who are having Polemical Backlash Syndrome (PBS) in an attempt to give themselves the illusion that they are secure in their Orthodox faith.

In real life, it is the Catholics that the Orthodox really have a bone to pick with.
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2013, 07:30:00 PM »

We'd still be writing in Latin today if it wasn't for Luther.

Another reason to dislike Luther. Great.  Smiley

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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2013, 07:39:17 PM »

Although becoming Orthodox may not have been a particularly viable solution for Martin Luther, Cyrillic's statement both avoids the question and answers it.

We can argue that Luther's "remaining loyal to the Pope" would've made little sense from an Orthodox POV, but ISTM that there would've been some value to it if becoming Orthodox was truly not a viable solution for him.  While both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are not Orthodox, the latter is definitely closer to Orthodoxy than the former, and if faith matters at all, that has to count for something.  At least if the ecumenical councils are to be trusted.        

This. IMO, I'd rather Luther have stayed under Rome.
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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2013, 07:43:54 PM »


Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation? 


Because this was the gates of hell attempting to prevail against the Church. 

Then either hell did a very bad job or became as blind as Homer, since the Church wasn't very involved in the Reformation business.

This movement caused Christianity to hemorrhage into 32,000 doctrinally different sects, every one of them--since they turned their backs on the first Church, Christ's Church--necessarily false churches.  That's something to bemoan, no?

The Reformers didn't turn their back on Christ's Church since they were never part of it to begin with.
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2013, 07:47:08 PM »

Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation?  Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

They don't. This forum is just full of recent converts from Evangelicalism who are having Polemical Backlash Syndrome (PBS) in an attempt to give themselves the illusion that they are secure in their Orthodox faith.

In real life, it is the Catholics that the Orthodox really have a bone to pick with.

This thread alone shows that the polemics, from converts or not, swing toward Rome as well.

And we can legitimately be more critical of Protestants than Catholics without it merely being "Polemical Backlash Syndrome," so long as the criticism is sound. IRL I'm constantly around Catholics, and apart from the so-called "progressives," they're much more like us than Protestants.
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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2013, 07:47:34 PM »

We'd still be writing in Latin today if it wasn't for Luther Gutenberg.
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2013, 08:03:25 PM »


Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation? 


Because this was the gates of hell attempting to prevail against the Church.  This movement caused Christianity to hemorrhage into 32,000 doctrinally different sects, every one of them--since they turned their backs on the first Church, Christ's Church--necessarily false churches.  That's something to bemoan, no?

There are plenty of other developments in history that have contributed to the proliferation of Protestant denominations and sects - you can't peg that all on the Reformation.  You might as well peg it on the Great Schism, Henry VIII or Judas Iscariot.
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2013, 08:04:30 PM »

Reading through the threads on the Reformation has led me to wonder exactly how Orthodox appraise the history of those who are in schism/heresy.

I would imagine the Orthodox would assume that once there is schism/heresy(disease) there can only be trouble and further erosion of tradition(cancer)?

I don't think "the Orthodox position", if there even is one, is as black and white as some would like.  Schism tears those who embrace it from the communion of the Church, and heresy is a corruption of the truth.  By definition, they "can only be trouble"; normally, we see further corruption set in the longer the schismatics/heretics remain outside the Church.  

But there is a tension.  On the one hand, "if you're out, you're out", or as Michal put it, "whether you are 2m or 200m far from the boat, you will drown the same way".  On the other hand, we can and do identify "degrees of separation", and it can take time for the tradition they received from the Church to be corrupted.  Rome's faith and tradition did not corrupt as soon as the schism between it and the Greek East became official.  That corruption took time after the split, and began even while united with the Greek East.  It's tempting to look at schism and heresy as an "on/off" switch, and that would be more convenient, but the truth of the matter is a bit messier.  

Quote
Do Orthodox believe that there can be schism yet the disease of error can be "contained"?  I.e., the Roman Church could have maintained all the other orthodox traditions while asserting the Filoque and papal primacy?

In theory, I believe so.  Schism may not involve any change in belief, but only a refusal of authority, a severing of communion, and so on.  Most of the EO "Old Calendarist" groups have not changed any tenets of the faith throughout the decades of their separation, but it is still regarded as a separation, a schism, by the "canonical" EO Churches.  If an EO accepts as a given that the Non-Chalcedonians are heretics and schismatics, he would still be hard-pressed, IMO, to identify any changes to or deviations from the Orthodox faith or praxis other than non-recognition of Chalcedon (and subsequent councils) and related issues.  If an OO accepts as a given that the Chalcedonians as heretics and schismatics, he can still differentiate between the various schisms and heresies which that original schism spawned: the EO differ from us only in terms of Chalcedon, etc., while Rome and Protestantism have all sorts of other things going on (all are Chalcedonians).  If you accept the view that both EO and OO profess the same faith, albeit using different terms, then this becomes even clearer: a schism clearly happened, at least on a human level, and yet in every way they are manifestly the same even after sixteen centuries.    

So yes, I think error can be contained even with schism because schism need not involve error or heresy, but it's by no means guaranteed, and separation from the Church renders a person or group susceptible to all sorts of dangers.  
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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2013, 08:31:10 PM »

Reading through the threads on the Reformation has led me to wonder exactly how Orthodox appraise the history of those who are in schism/heresy.

I would imagine the Orthodox would assume that once there is schism/heresy(disease) there can only be trouble and further erosion of tradition(cancer)?

I don't think "the Orthodox position", if there even is one, is as black and white as some would like.  Schism tears those who embrace it from the communion of the Church, and heresy is a corruption of the truth.  By definition, they "can only be trouble"; normally, we see further corruption set in the longer the schismatics/heretics remain outside the Church.  

But there is a tension.  On the one hand, "if you're out, you're out", or as Michal put it, "whether you are 2m or 200m far from the boat, you will drown the same way".  On the other hand, we can and do identify "degrees of separation", and it can take time for the tradition they received from the Church to be corrupted.  Rome's faith and tradition did not corrupt as soon as the schism between it and the Greek East became official.  That corruption took time after the split, and began even while united with the Greek East.  It's tempting to look at schism and heresy as an "on/off" switch, and that would be more convenient, but the truth of the matter is a bit messier.  

Quote
Do Orthodox believe that there can be schism yet the disease of error can be "contained"?  I.e., the Roman Church could have maintained all the other orthodox traditions while asserting the Filoque and papal primacy?

In theory, I believe so.  Schism may not involve any change in belief, but only a refusal of authority, a severing of communion, and so on.  Most of the EO "Old Calendarist" groups have not changed any tenets of the faith throughout the decades of their separation, but it is still regarded as a separation, a schism, by the "canonical" EO Churches.  If an EO accepts as a given that the Non-Chalcedonians are heretics and schismatics, he would still be hard-pressed, IMO, to identify any changes to or deviations from the Orthodox faith or praxis other than non-recognition of Chalcedon (and subsequent councils) and related issues.  If an OO accepts as a given that the Chalcedonians as heretics and schismatics, he can still differentiate between the various schisms and heresies which that original schism spawned: the EO differ from us only in terms of Chalcedon, etc., while Rome and Protestantism have all sorts of other things going on (all are Chalcedonians).  If you accept the view that both EO and OO profess the same faith, albeit using different terms, then this becomes even clearer: a schism clearly happened, at least on a human level, and yet in every way they are manifestly the same even after sixteen centuries.    

So yes, I think error can be contained even with schism because schism need not involve error or heresy, but it's by no means guaranteed, and separation from the Church renders a person or group susceptible to all sorts of dangers.  

Thank you for the response.  I had the OO hanging around in the back of my mind so I'm grateful that you brought that in as well.

God bless.
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« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2013, 08:38:47 PM »

Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation?  Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

They don't. This forum is just full of recent converts from Evangelicalism who are having Polemical Backlash Syndrome (PBS) in an attempt to give themselves the illusion that they are secure in their Orthodox faith.

In real life, it is the Catholics that the Orthodox really have a bone to pick with.

Thank you.
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2013, 10:07:56 PM »


This thread alone shows that the polemics, from converts or not, swing toward Rome as well.

And we can legitimately be more critical of Protestants than Catholics without it merely being "Polemical Backlash Syndrome," so long as the criticism is sound. IRL I'm constantly around Catholics, and apart from the so-called "progressives," they're much more like us than Protestants.

+1, big time.



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« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2013, 10:10:34 PM »



There are plenty of other developments in history that have contributed to the proliferation of Protestant denominations and sects - you can't peg that all on the Reformation.  


Without the reformation, there would be no protestantism, so yeah, all of it can be pegged on that.  That's what the reformation was.


Quote
You might as well peg it on the Great Schism, Henry VIII or Judas Iscariot.

The Great Schism produced Roman Catholicism apart from Orthodoxy, not the reformation.
Judas Iscariot did not run off and start a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, or any other kind of protestant church. 
And the Henry VIII reference is lost on me.  Which protestant church did he start?
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« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2013, 10:36:59 PM »

Although becoming Orthodox may not have been a particularly viable solution for Martin Luther, Cyrillic's statement both avoids the question and answers it.

We can argue that Luther's "remaining loyal to the Pope" would've made little sense from an Orthodox POV, but ISTM that there would've been some value to it if becoming Orthodox was truly not a viable solution for him.

I didn't intend to argue that remaining loyal to the Pope wouldn't have made sense, or that it wouldn't have had some value to it.  Nor do I believe that the ramifications of his split were harmless.  I did, however, have to look up ISTM, but I'm in the know now.   Smiley  

Quote
While both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are not Orthodox, the latter is definitely closer to Orthodoxy than the former,
and if faith matters at all, that has to count for something.  At least if the ecumenical councils are to be trusted.        

I don't argue that in many respects Roman Catholicism is closer to Orthodoxy than most forms of Protestantism.  That doesn't mean, at least in my opinion, that we use the same standard of applying the terms heresy and schism towards those leaving Rome.  The post I responded to strongly implied that Martin Luther's act was both.  I disagree with that idea, while maintaining that there still may have been a more beneficial outcome in remaining.

Similarly, while it may be better to stay a Roman Catholic than become some adherent of an odd denomination, the logic of the argument for Luther to remain could be taken to the following extreme:

Leave the RCC for Orthodoxy: Just swell. 
Leave the RCC for Protestantism: Heretical schismatic.

If someone leaves the RCC because of a Roman Catholic heresy, as Martin Luther did and many do today, I'm simply saying that this action should be understandable and difficult to condemn from our side.   

Once again, I think this debate tends to boil down to whether the RCC is part of the Church or not?  If it ceased to be the Church at some point after leaving the Church, as most of us contend, then leaving it doesn't carry the same ramifications as leaving the Orthodox Church.  Nor can we expect people to stay in a church that we ourselves (both OO and EO) cut ties with. 

Just because the RCC more closely resembles the Orthodox Church than others doesn't mean that it wasn't and isn't a powerful rival, plucking many from our fold over the centuries and representing the most well-known, influential, and widely recognized apostolic church in the world.

Is this to say that there is no value in remaining Roman Catholic? Of course not, but how do we determine closeness?  Is it the overall theology?  If so, certain aspects of Arminian influenced Methodist Christian Perfection appear closer to Orthodoxy than certain Roman Catholic teachings.  Liturgically, the Anglo-Catholic parish near me represents a much closer form of worship--in sight, sound and feel--than does the RC parish near me.  I don't think you're arguing that it is always a clear-cut decision of closeness, but I'm asserting that it isn't.

In either case, I think most of us believe the RCC was sick or misguided around the time of the reformation, in some form or another, if not outright broken and/or compromised/distanced form the Church.  In this regard, I think we can at least empathize with Martin Luther's decision to leave.

I guess I'll defer the broader question of whether he should've stayed or not to smarter, wiser people than myself.  My point was simply that he cannot rightfully be viewed--from an Orthodox perspective--as being a schismatic, as he "schism'd" from a post-schism church.

P.S. I love your posts, Mor.  Very glad to have you posting again.
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« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2013, 11:37:21 PM »

Do Orthodox believe that there can be schism yet the disease of error can be "contained"?  I.e., the Roman Church could have maintained all the other orthodox traditions while asserting the Filoque and papal primacy?

Forgive me the rather crude analogy, but the most delicious sundae in the world is ruined by just one bite of excrement. It'd be better to throw it out completely than to attempt to eat around it. This is how I feel about both Rome and the Reformation.

And I think it's fairly basic Orthodox ecclesiology that you cannot be Orthodox outside of the Church. Those of us who have tried can tell you that from experience.
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2013, 12:36:05 AM »

I don't argue that in many respects Roman Catholicism is closer to Orthodoxy than most forms of Protestantism.  That doesn't mean, at least in my opinion, that we use the same standard of applying the terms heresy and schism towards those leaving Rome.  The post I responded to strongly implied that Martin Luther's act was both.  I disagree with that idea, while maintaining that there still may have been a more beneficial outcome in remaining.

OK, I understand. 

Quote
If someone leaves the RCC because of a Roman Catholic heresy, as Martin Luther did and many do today, I'm simply saying that this action should be understandable and difficult to condemn from our side.   

Sure, but in leaving the RCC because of its heresy, do they move closer or farther away from the truth?  We can focus on the first half of that question and agree, but the second half is at least as important IMO. 

Quote
Once again, I think this debate tends to boil down to whether the RCC is part of the Church or not?  If it ceased to be the Church at some point after leaving the Church, as most of us contend, then leaving it doesn't carry the same ramifications as leaving the Orthodox Church.  Nor can we expect people to stay in a church that we ourselves (both OO and EO) cut ties with. 

Actually, EO cut ties with the RCC; OO cut ties with Chalcedonians (both the Greek East and the Latin West) before there was a RCC to speak of.  As I've written in other threads, this is why some of the OO Churches regard RC's as equivalent to EO's in certain circumstances.  Since my jurisdiction is among them, I'm a bit more positive about RC's.  But I also think that the Church needs to address the differences between EO and RC and, if deemed appropriate, re-adjust to reflect those differences.  Anyway, because of that, I see leaving RC for Protestantism to be a bigger deal than just staying put.  Obviously, embracing Orthodoxy is best. 

Quote
Is this to say that there is no value in remaining Roman Catholic? Of course not, but how do we determine closeness?  Is it the overall theology?  If so, certain aspects of Arminian influenced Methodist Christian Perfection appear closer to Orthodoxy than certain Roman Catholic teachings.  Liturgically, the Anglo-Catholic parish near me represents a much closer form of worship--in sight, sound and feel--than does the RC parish near me.  I don't think you're arguing that it is always a clear-cut decision of closeness, but I'm asserting that it isn't.

Basically, we agree, though I suspect I think it's more clear-cut than you might feel comfortable saying.  But that's me.   

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P.S. I love your posts, Mor.  Very glad to have you posting again.

Allow me to compliment you on your exquisite taste.  Wink 

Thanks!
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« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2013, 01:49:13 AM »

No matter whether you are 2m or 200m far from the boat. You will drown the same way.
+2!
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« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2014, 12:43:57 AM »

by the way,

In regards to "Heterodox/heretic", I can read at least "Kakodox" (meaning wrong belief basically) in some sources such as from the 9th century at least but I have not looked around to much so perhaps it is an ancient use as well

i prefer kakodox than heterodox, but people usually do not know what kakodox means and besides it sounds quite rude for english... so heretic is better but oh no the emotions of the person might be harmed! people seem to have a habit of calling roman catholics or protestants "heterodox" when really they are more than that

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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2014, 01:00:55 AM »

Reading through the threads on the Reformation has led me to wonder exactly how Orthodox appraise the history of those who are in schism/heresy.

I would imagine the Orthodox would assume that once there is schism/heresy(disease) there can only be trouble and further erosion of tradition(cancer)?

Do Orthodox believe that there can be schism yet the disease of error can be "contained"?  I.e., the Roman Church could have maintained all the other orthodox traditions while asserting the Filoque and papal primacy?



We don't dogmatize on history.

Certainly the Roman Church did keep many Orthodox traditions along with the innovations. But they didn't stop at those two, but added more. This was not inevitable, though.

When regarding shismatics and heretics (not calling anyone here that, just using the terms because those are used in the canons), the Church (the bishop or synod) makes an evaluation based on the present day (whenever that is) situation. Sometimes, historical trends are taken into consideration, but the only reason to even look at the teaching and praxis of schismatic and heretical bodies is when receiving converts or attempting a reunion council (though I don't know of any successful reunion council off the top of my head). That is, there's no real reason to officially comment on other Christian groups unless it involves converts, reunion councils, or the Orthodox are responding to something--a letter, an invasion, missionary activity, etc. AFAIK, official comment is not done for its own sake.
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2014, 01:03:22 AM »

Someone who knows more than I do can give you a more thorough answer, but I'm not sure I understand your last statement.  I don't know what the advantage to containing the error could possibly be, since the error would still exist.  The error would need to be fixed, otherwise it is a false teaching that continues to be spread.

What is the "nature" of error?  Does it multiply like cancer spreading to different organs?  Once you diverge from Holy Tradition in one way isn't it inevitable that you'll move further away? 

Why do Orthodox bemoan the Reformation?  Should Luther have remained loyal to the pope?

Further error isn't inevitable. The Oriental Orthodox have been separated from the Eastern Orthodox for 1500 years, but haven't multiplied error. Several Old Believer groups, however, adopted very strange beliefs shortly after their departure.

As for bemoaning the Reformation, we don't care that Protestants left the pope. We're concerned about all the other stuff they got rid of--stuff that was perfectly good.
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« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2014, 02:09:41 AM »



There are plenty of other developments in history that have contributed to the proliferation of Protestant denominations and sects - you can't peg that all on the Reformation. 


Without the reformation, there would be no protestantism, so yeah, all of it can be pegged on that.  That's what the reformation was.


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You might as well peg it on the Great Schism, Henry VIII or Judas Iscariot.

The Great Schism produced Roman Catholicism apart from Orthodoxy, not the reformation.
Judas Iscariot did not run off and start a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, or any other kind of protestant church. 
And the Henry VIII reference is lost on me.  Which protestant church did he start?

Henry VIII founded Anglicanism. However, it very soon strayed from Henry's vision, which was essentially an autocephalous Church. Except for his rejection of the authority of the Pope, Henry was no Protestant. After Henry, the Church of England embraced Protestantism with a heavy Calvinist influence.
Forgive me it this seems egotistical, but for a fuller discussion of the Orthodox response to both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism read my book The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History I was written to help Orthodox Christians understand the various Christian groups, what they believe and the Orthodox response to their various beliefs.

Fr. John W. Morris
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