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SehnsuchtSojourner
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« on: May 22, 2014, 12:53:05 AM »

Hey all,

I'm SehnsuchtSojourner, currently a rather ecumenical Protestant discerning the Orthodox faith.  I'm one who enjoys wrestling through issues of faith step by step, often drawing from a ton of traditions to inform my view, e.g., to put it in Protestant terms, I'm somewhere between charismatic and neocharismatic on my understanding of glossolalia, prophecy, etc.  If I had to characterize myself, the best I could say I'd be now would be a charismatic Anglo-Catholic with appreciation for Orthodoxy.  Yeah, it's messy.

As much as I've enjoyed wrestling through questions of soteriology, the Eucharist, child vs. adult baptism (and seeing what I believe to be God's presence in many groups), I've been hit recently with the hard question of authority: who gets to say x rather than y?  I realize that I've had a very, VERY Protestant way of approaching God, selecting from this or that tradition based on the good I've seen in different groups and what makes sense to me.  I've seen so much of what I believe to be the presence of God that I can't deny His presence here with me, in the RCC, and in Orthodoxy.

Right now, I'm trying to reconcile what I've known within myself with Orthodoxy.  I've been reading on this subject for about 9ish months.  Orthodoxy makes a compelling case on all fronts, and does nurture the soul.  Historically, it has the lineage of the True Church, and I know that it's an exclusive claim.  But I also know -- based on Scripture and personal experience -- that I have known Christ in me.  There's the half of me that says Orthodoxy is right logically in its traditions and spiritual practice, and I should submit to its authority (although it would be a wrestling match).  However, the other half says, "who really cares about the technical detail when you've known God's love, to whatever measure, outside its bounds?  Can you be blessed by it without joining it?"

What am I wrestling to give up?  I'm trying to figure out if I can bind myself to the Orthodox church without losing the goodness (which I believe are God's graces) outside it, namely...

- Seeing the marks of the divine over non-Orthodox Christian groups
- Ecumenical fellowship with non-Orthodox Christians
- The regular practice of prophecy, prayers for healing, and (private) glossolalia
- (selfish) non-Orthodox Christian music usage for worship (in non-liturgical settings, e.g., around a campfire).
- (selfish) metalcore bands (sheepish grin)

Can anybody empathize with these questions/provide insights into next steps?  Regardless of how God leads me, I want to know Him to the fullest extent I can without discrediting His work at any stage of my life.

Thanks in advance for the insight -- and for bearing with me as I wrestle through this.

Peace in Christ,
SS
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 01:18:13 AM »

Christ is Risen!

Welcome to the forum.   Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2014, 01:48:07 AM »

Quote
- Seeing the marks of the divine over non-Orthodox Christian groups
- Ecumenical fellowship with non-Orthodox Christians
- The regular practice of prophecy, prayers for healing, and (private) glossolalia
- (selfish) non-Orthodox Christian music usage for worship (in non-liturgical settings, e.g., around a campfire).
- (selfish) metalcore bands (sheepish grin)

I think that most of those things are acceptable in an Orthodox context. The only problem that I see among those is what you call glossolalia. Which, in New Testament context, means languages and not what Charismatics usually interpret it to mean.

In any case, welcome to the forum.
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SehnsuchtSojourner
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 02:12:58 AM »

Quote
- Seeing the marks of the divine over non-Orthodox Christian groups
- Ecumenical fellowship with non-Orthodox Christians
- The regular practice of prophecy, prayers for healing, and (private) glossolalia
- (selfish) non-Orthodox Christian music usage for worship (in non-liturgical settings, e.g., around a campfire).
- (selfish) metalcore bands (sheepish grin)

I think that most of those things are acceptable in an Orthodox context. The only problem that I see among those is what you call glossolalia. Which, in New Testament context, means languages and not what Charismatics usually interpret it to mean.

In any case, welcome to the forum.

Thanks to you both, SolEX01 & Orthodox4Christ!  And I've been reading a ton on glossolalia from the Orthodox perspective to sort my way through it all.  I'm fine with it being a language (known or unknown).  I desire not to speak in tongues if it is my manmade utterances or demonic.  However, if it is beneficial to my spiritual growth, if it is indeed holy, good, and desirable, I would acknowledge it as good and would hope to continue in practice.  I've even considered getting exorcised to test it.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 02:13:37 AM by SehnsuchtSojourner » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 08:05:04 AM »

Welcome to the the Convert Issues  Forum!

The purpose of the Convert issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted could ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are ignorant of Orthodox teachings and are using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. Due to the simplicity of many of their requests and responses, direct and simple answers with sources if possible are most helpful.

If the moderators find that the discusions become faith or jurisdiction debates, the topic will be split and sent the appropriate OC.Net forum to continue the discussion or debate. As a poster,You may also ask that a topic be split so that a private discussion can be established to go into detail about the issues that you feel adamant about and wish to debate or discuss. The convert forum is not a place for combative debate or arguement.  

Thank you for your following these guidelines to the edification and spiritual growth of the forum inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted.

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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 09:51:42 AM »

As much as I've enjoyed wrestling through questions of soteriology, the Eucharist, child vs. adult baptism (and seeing what I believe to be God's presence in many groups), I've been hit recently with the hard question of authority: who gets to say x rather than y?  I realize that I've had a very, VERY Protestant way of approaching God, selecting from this or that tradition based on the good I've seen in different groups and what makes sense to me. 

I bolded a couple of things, because for me, the question of authority was really what drew me to Orthodoxy. Devout and well-meaning Christians interpret the same Scripture and come up with different (often diametrically opposed) beliefs. So how do you know? Also picking and choosing to suit our own fancies means we sort of end up with a God that looks and thinks an awful lot like us. That, ISTM, is at its roots, pride and a grave error, as well as a dead end. (in more ways than one!)

For me, the beginning of wisdom is the realization that (theoretically speaking, of course!) at some point, I could be wrong about something. Therefore, it may not be the best idea to just lean upon my own understanding.

To paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins, the Church has historically believed, taught and preached the Faith delivered by our Lord to the Apostles.- and that's how you know.

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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 10:02:53 AM »

No one, upon encountering Orthodoxy, is going to be able to accept all the claims it makes without hesitation and jump in head first. Everyone comes with problems and conundrums that they have difficulty working through.  For me, the teachings surrounding the Virgin Mary - Theotokos, were difficult for me to accept as I came from an Evangelical background. Others from different backgrounds have no problems with that, but struggle with other issues.  The only thing I would say is don't try to swallow all of it in one bite. Orthodoxy is best learned by experience.  Attend Divine Liturgy, speak to the priest, go to inquirers classes or whatever the equivalent might be called. Learning little by little, you might be amazed at how quickly what initially were major concerns might be resolved in your mind. If you have a good priest, that is a wonderful resource in your journey.  Orthodoxy does not condemn those who are outside of the Church. The Christian life is a journey. Christianity outside of the Church is often part of that pathway. It is not for us to denigrate someone who is on a different part of that pathway.
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 11:01:07 AM »

Welcome, SehnsuchtSojourner Smiley I don't have much to add regardingvthe issues you mention, other than for me many of them don't really seem to be a problem. With music (outside church) in particular, that's mostly your own thing, and not something you should get hasseled about. If certain things are causing a problem then they need go be dealt with at some point, but others are only involved in that to the extent that you let them or want them to be. I think you will also find that the members here listen to a fairly wide range of music, as discussed some in the 'Reviews' section.
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 11:03:15 AM »

To paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins, the Church has historically believed, taught and preached the Faith delivered by our Lord to the Apostles.- and that's how you know.

Finally! An understanding of St. Vincent that I can accept as a traveling comoanion Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 08:44:13 PM »

- (selfish) non-Orthodox Christian music usage for worship (in non-liturgical settings, e.g., around a campfire).

The members of my Church regularly gather together to sing the Protestant hymns that they grew up with, at barbecues and other gatherings.

- (selfish) metalcore bands (sheepish grin)

I listen to Christian metal and I listen to non-Christian metal. Tom Araya, bassist and vocalist for Slayer, professes to be a Christian (I believe he was raised Roman Catholic and might still belong to the RCC). The music he makes has been called Satanic by many a detractor. He said in an interview "People are not in good shape to where they have to question their own belief system because of a book or a story somebody wrote, or a Slayer song." (source) I try to remember his words when I start obsessing about the music I should or should not listen to.

I do talk to my priest about the music I listen to, and we've agreed that it's not a part of my life I'm going to change right now, that there are plenty of other more important things to work on in building my relationship with Christ.

In truth, listening to non-Christian metal has kind of opened my ears to how other people see the world, especially Christianity. A lot of people are just really angry at the hypocrisy they see in all the world's spheres -- politics, business, and of course, religion. Here are some lines from Vale of Pnath (death metal):

Live as he lived, suffer as he did
Feast upon these lies like a peasant fed ambrosia
A leech on the wound, verminous knowledge unfiltered yet still consumed
Persecute those who have denied, escaped, exposed this divine prison
Worship he who embraced the wrongdoers; become an arbiter of the noble
Teach humility and practice arrogance

[...]

You believe he died for you, but would you suffer for him?

Also some non-Christian musicians are genuinely searching for the divine, but just don't know where to look. Here's an example verse from Oak Pantheon (black metal):

I hold in my hands
A pointed stone
I think of carving the final words
Into my flesh
Yet something always holds me back
And I pray
To whatever God there is
That it always will

You shouldn't be getting your theology from the non-liturgical music that you listen to, Christian or otherwise, but I think it's helpful to connect with musicians on a human level, without necessarily agreeing with them.

But that's just my take on the matter. I try not to let someone else's views affect my own, and I try to appreciate the commonalities we share.
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 10:16:22 PM »

Can anybody empathize with these questions/provide insights into next steps?
Set aside your worries for now, and attend a service. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2014, 06:45:32 PM »

Can anybody empathize with these questions/provide insights into next steps?
Set aside your worries for now, and attend a service. Smiley

Thanks to everyone for the feedback/insights!  I'm a med student, so I'll try to reply expediently.

@NicholasMyra, your comment is the one I've heard most frequently from friends who are Orthodox.  I've done a ton of book learning, but I have yet to engage in the liturgy of many services.  I attended a Greek divine liturgy when I wasn't inquiring a few years ago, and I've now attended a vespers and part of a bright service.  Any good suggestions for type to attend?

Also appreciate everyone's insights into my concerns about giving up various elements.  Definitely feeling these verses ringing true with regard to approaching the non-Orthodox:

"12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”" -- I Cor 5:12-13

... which raises another q: which English version of the Scriptures do the Orthodox prefer?  NRSV?  RSV?  NASB?  KJV?
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2014, 06:52:46 PM »

Also, any thoughts on Peter Leithart's approach to conversion from the First Things article below?  I believe only one of his questions reflect my own, not so much the practical ones, but this:

Quote
For all my profound admiration for Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and for all the vibrant renewal in those churches, I continue to have... lingering puzzlement about...the role of tradition.

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/05/staying-put

Is the nearest to the original liturgy/tradition best, or so long as you've been in keeping to the body that's clung tightest to the tradition, you're in good step?

Thanks again!
SS
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2014, 07:31:51 PM »

The role of tradition is, in part, to act as a buffer against oddballs.

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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2014, 09:59:19 PM »

Also, any thoughts on Peter Leithart's approach to conversion from the First Things article below?  I believe only one of his questions reflect my own, not so much the practical ones, but this:

Quote
For all my profound admiration for Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and for all the vibrant renewal in those churches, I continue to have... lingering puzzlement about...the role of tradition.

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/05/staying-put

Is the nearest to the original liturgy/tradition best, or so long as you've been in keeping to the body that's clung tightest to the tradition, you're in good step?

Thanks again!
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2014, 10:13:53 PM »

Also, any thoughts on Peter Leithart's approach to conversion from the First Things article below?  I believe only one of his questions reflect my own, not so much the practical ones, but this:

Quote
For all my profound admiration for Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and for all the vibrant renewal in those churches, I continue to have... lingering puzzlement about...the role of tradition.

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/05/staying-put

Is the nearest to the original liturgy/tradition best, or so long as you've been in keeping to the body that's clung tightest to the tradition, you're in good step?

Thanks again!
SSd

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"If I became Orthodox, I'd have to admit I was wrong. About a lot of things. It's much more comfortable to remain as I am."

Haha, yeah, that's why I don't appreciate most of the article. It's mainly the q of how tradition functions in/has been interpreted by the church throughout history.
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« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2014, 11:08:57 PM »

Some speak of it as the passing on and living out (in each generation) of the faith once delivered to the saints.
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« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2014, 08:37:09 AM »

Something that is a little difficult to grasp is that you can't separate out Holy Tradition - Orthodoxy is an "organic" whole. Holy Tradition encompasses the Bible also.
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« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2014, 12:29:29 PM »

Something that is a little difficult to grasp is that you can't separate out Holy Tradition - Orthodoxy is an "organic" whole. Holy Tradition encompasses the Bible also.

I get that (and find it quite cool). My q is more meta: how has tradition been interpreted throughout history, I.e., by early church fathers?
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« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2014, 01:31:58 PM »

I certainly found that I could empathise with a lot in your questions. I come from an evangelical charismatic background within an Anglican context. I have been a leader in the Alpha Course. As I became more interested in the Church Fathers, I grew attracted to Anglo Catholicism and have friends at Pusey House at Oxford. My last church before becoming Orthodox was the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

Alas, after a few years of studying the Early Church and longing for a church body rooted in the Deposit of The Faith, I became Orthodox. Any other alternative, I found, falls short of the true, authentic faith delivered once and for all to the Apostles. There are sacrifices in becoming Orthodox and a good number of inconveniences, but those burdens were and are well worth bearing because of one unavoidable conclusion for me: Orthodoxy is true, good and beautiful.

Anglicanism and especially the Anglo Catholic variety comes close but inevitably falls short. The Early Church was one, united and catholic, unlike the chaotic disunion today within Anglicanism. You may find some fairly orthodox Anglican parishes, but the whole is not united like the Church was. The internecine fighting within Anglicanism about homosexuality, women priests, the uniqueness of Christ and other issues makes being Anglican uncomfortable for those looking to the Early Church as a model.

To your questions:

1. Seeing the marks of the divine over non-Orthodox Christian groups

In Orthodoxy, we pray the ancient Trisagion prayers daily which includes the following: "Oh Heavenly King, oh Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who are in all places and fill all things.." Orthodoxy maintains that God made man in His image and His Spirit is not limited to the confines of the Church. So yes, we see that.

Moreover, many non-Orthodox Christians are received into Orthodoxy through chrismation only--an economia of practice that implicitly recognises the legitimacy of some non-Orthodox Christian baptism.
 
2. Ecumenical fellowship with non-Orthodox Christians

Orthodox are not permitted to participate in the offices/sacraments of other churches. This is due not to disrespect but to the impossibility of judging who outside of the Church is really part of the Church in some mystical way. That said, Orthodox around the world participate in Ecumenical activities. I recently gave a talk to a group of Evangelicals, with the blessing of my priest, based on a Orthodox sermon from Father Josiah Trenham from www.patristicnectar.org. If we do not interact with non Orthodox Christians, they will likely never discover the Church. Bottom line, however: Ecumenical fellowship should be carried out under the aegis of one's Spiritual Father.

3. The regular practice of prophecy, prayers for healing, and (private) glossolalia

The Orthodox Church is charismatic in the sense that the Early Church was. One can find all the charismatic gifts active in the body, especially amongst monks. I suggest you read St. John of Kronstadt or St Symeon the New Theologian, both of whom exercised charismatic spiritual gifts.

You will not find these spiritual gifts on display during the Divine Liturgy. However, I have on a number of occasions felt that the beauty of the Divine Liturgy is as "charismatic" as any worship experience I have had in other churches.

4. (selfish) non-Orthodox Christian music usage for worship (in non-liturgical settings, e.g., around a campfire).

I don't know about campfire settings, but on my IPod you will find Hillsong, David Crowder and Switchfoot, which I sometimes listen to whilst running. I much prefer Orthodox chant for worship, though.

5. (selfish) metalcore bands (sheepish grin)[/i]

I am more into post punk music like Flatfoot 56, but I loved that video. My kids would as well. Thanks.





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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2014, 04:27:20 PM »

I just want to say that I can certainly identify with your background and search. Smiley

I started out Baptist, went through various Pentecostal denominations (and non-denoms) after having some charismatic experiences of my own, and carrying and experiencing much of that along the way.

After some years, I started really looking at theology, and the first place I looked was the Catholic Church (just to see if what I'd always been told was true or not) and found a surprising (to me) amount of good teaching there, but it wasn't quite right for me. I did attend several liturgical churches - Lutheran and Anglican, and almost settled on the Anglican at one point (a continuing Anglican, so more traditional).

And a number of other churches that don't fit neatly into those boxes either.

It was theology that I explored first, but it wasn't long before I came to a Liturgy - a presanctified in my case, because Great Lent had started. I've since been to a great many services and lived at the Church during Holy Week (I'd recommend those services, but you'll have to wait for next year!).

The turning point for me was a Divine Liturgy with the full choir - our choir is amazing and it felt like standing in heaven - both joyous and at times awesome (I think I finally understood "fear" of God but in an awe-filled way during the Cherubic Hymn I think it was).

I would definitely say - attend the Liturgy! I would also recommend speaking to a priest, and getting to know people in the community in a gathering after the liturgy. I hope it's not like our Church - the choir takes a break for summer and the congregation scatters, so our services are much smaller. The other day the priest was the only one to perform the entire Orthros and Liturgy. It's not the same as it normally is and he warned us not to be alarmed, and things will be back to normal soon.

As far as glossalalia - that (and the music that has always been so moving to me) were the big stumbling blocks. After some more study, I have decided to reserve my opinion on the glossalalia as I am developing concerns.

But yes, I can identify, with nearly everything you said. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2014, 07:21:38 PM »

As far as glossalalia - that (and the music that has always been so moving to me) were the big stumbling blocks. After some more study, I have decided to reserve my opinion on the glossalalia as I am developing concerns.

Thanks for your insight! To clarify, do you mean that you are currently reserving your opinion on glossolalia from this discussion, or from the Orthodox Church as you sort it out?
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« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2014, 07:39:35 PM »

As far as glossalalia - that (and the music that has always been so moving to me) were the big stumbling blocks. After some more study, I have decided to reserve my opinion on the glossalalia as I am developing concerns.

Thanks for your insight! To clarify, do you mean that you are currently reserving your opinion on glossolalia from this discussion, or from the Orthodox Church as you sort it out?

Sorry for not being clear.

I thought I knew all about what I had experienced and learned, and I have since taken a REALLY hard look at what I thought I got from God, and experienced of Him, etc. And what I think I have learned ... is that some things certainly were from God. But I think I allowed my excitement to get the better of me, and accepted some things I ought not to have as well.

I don't have reason to believe that glossalalia fits into that category from my own experience, but I have read and seen reference to situations where it has for others. So ... I am reserving my opinion on glossalalia (practiced myself) for the time being until I can find a way to be sure. I had actually gotten to the point where I rarely practiced anymore.

But I just want to be sure before I practice further. Actually, one thing that concerned me is that after I decided to keep a "wait and see" attitude, I went with my husband (I was having to visit various churches with him - he is not Orthodox) - I went into a Church of God, and for I think the first time ever, I began speaking without my intent to do so, which concerns me. It could have been reaction to the worship music, or it could have been habit, or it could have been something to worry about.

Until I know, I'm not doing it for now.

But my experience does not necessarily reflect on anyone else. I just noticed that was one of your concerns. And I actually had very much the concern NOT to give it up when I started inquiring into Orthodoxy, but now I wish to know for sure where it comes from before I decide.

Hope that answers your question. Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2014, 07:44:24 PM »

Orthodoxy does not ignore glossolalia ( depending on how you're defining it) - rather we say that this is only one of the spiritual gifts, no more or less than teaching or exhortation or any of the others. We also believe that, as according to Holy Scripture, there should always be someone to interpret. You will notice that the gifts listed by St. Paul are all for the building up of the Body, rather than for our private benefit. Orthodoxy urges caution and prayerful discernment in all these situations.
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« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2014, 08:08:27 PM »

It is not something I have ever done where anyone could hear me. I don't do this publicly in churches that do allow it, and of course I would not in an Orthodox Church. I'm a little uncomfortable with public practice of it.

I do not know if it is any real language. I've tried to transcribe it, and get nothing coherent on translators. Words here and there - generally Arabic languages (which is what it sounds like, but anyone can guess a word here and there).

I have heard other people's and it does not sound like the repetitive sounds I hear, but is rather complex.

I do know it's not me. But ... as you said, caution. I really don't know.

I was practicing some forms of monastic prayer years ago, and it just happened. Forms of Catholic mysticism, iirc.

It has never benefited anyone except myself. I interpreted (as people will do) for myself St. Paul saying that he prayed in the Spirit and his own spirit was edified, and that's how I took it. But since I won't speak it out loud, no one else ever has been. I can't interpret it.

Personally, I always took glossalalia to be the least of the gifts, and not something to grasp or as any "proof" of spirituality, as it can be in many churches.

But I don't know for sure what I have, and so I plan to restrain for now.
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2014, 01:00:37 PM »

With respect to the charismata, I think even a cursory read through the lives of Orthodoxy's holy elders and saints will reveal that these things are with us still as they have been since the time of the Apostles.  The difference is in the Orthodox faith, these gifts are tightly associated with profound holiness. No popcorn prophets allowed. Those among us who are recognized as having such gifts and as well or better known for their holiness and lives of unbroken prayer. Those who have such gifts have without exception (to my knowledge) had such giftings tested and approved by their own spiritual mothers and fathers who were likely so gifted as well. You might call it a charismatic tradition of disciples, age to age. The fruit of this caution is that when a holy elder/living saint gives a prophecy, it will happen as they say 100% just as in Apostolic times. This is something that occurs deep in the heart of the Church...no lone rangering because one "feels" inspired.

Part of the problem with the protestant charismatic movement is not in that they believe God to be eminent, active and interested in our lives, and willing to work wonders. Orthodox certainly agrees with this in principle. The thing is Protestants approach the gifts of the Spirit they way they do salvation...that is in terms of a type of contractual event. Say the sinners prayer sincerely, ask Jesus into your heart and bam you're saved. Want gifts, ask for them and just believe, and bam, their yours. Just have faith.  In Orthodoxy salvation is not just about being let in the door, but about browning in grace, being transformed to be like Christ. That transformation is the content of salvation. Likewise with the Holy Spirit. He is holy and until we have been made holy by the outworking of God's grace it is not appropriated for us to receive or try to exercise gifts of the Holy Spirit as if they were part of the swag that comes with being Christian. Consider perfumes and incense are compounded from a number of fragrant substances together with binders. These elements are ground together very finely mixed with the binders and let cure for weeks or months. Then their perfume/fragrance is ready to be shared upon burning coals in the Church. So are the souls of the holy. They raw goodness they have received, lovely as it may be on it own, is united with other lovely good things, ground together...refined, made small (humbled), then it is bound together and cured, like holy ones who live in seclusion and obedience for many years, then in the presence of God's people this holy soul is touched by fire, and the the scent and beauty of holiness is revealed. 

Fr. Seraphim Rose correctly observed that much of what passes as modern Charismatic practice in the Protestant world is effectively a form of Christian Shamanism. It may be well intentioned...may even by God's merciful grace do a good turn now and again, but it is an ultimately dangerous practice as its occasional successes are untempered by hiddenness, humility, and submission to the mind of the Church. This opens such souls (and their followers) to a condition known as Prelest/plany (delusion). And it can get very bad (take a look at The Arena by St. Ignati Brianchaninov). Because of this we understand the true full gifts of the Holy Spirit are invested with those who are mature and actively holy, not just theoretically/potentially holy in their day to day walk.

As for glossolalia, I speak as one who practiced it for 21 years...and could still if I wanted. Over time I came to regard "tongues" as mostly a psychological phenomenon/trick called psychomotor disassociation. The conscious control of the the speaking mechanism is sort of let go to run on its own. There may be subconscious control/modeling but the mind does not directed any intelligible speech. I was taught this was "praying in the Spirit" and true enough the focus of my attention could be deeply immersed in pray about a person/situation for which I knew needed help but about which I did not know how to pray. But...I could also let my mind wander to this and that while my mouth kept rattling on. The conclusion I eventually came to was that at times when focused I was indeed praying in my Spirit...or at least as well as I could without words. That is to say my heart lifted a petition of need to the Lord without articulating the need...sort of like the woman touching the hem of Christ's garment.  It was just a wordless reaching out to God for help. The "tongues" at best kept me from telling God what to do to handle things, at worst they were just a pleasant noise. 

I've not missed them in Orthodoxy. The Jesus prayer and it's variants serve every need I once used "tongues" for. Do I need to pray for myself, well then a few mindful repetitions of "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner" do fine. Is someone else in need, then "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon Thy servant (name)." Of I can called upon a saint or the blessed Theotokos for their prayers, "Blessed Theotokos open to me the doors of repentance." "Holy St. (name) speedy helper and intercessor pray for (me) (someone else).  Feeling challenged by dark spiritual forces, "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered. Let them flee from before His face. As wax vanishes before the fire, so let them vanish."  Quick simple prayers in which to immerse the mind and its attention....the so called "praying in the Spirit" tongues are just not missed.  That doesn't mean this gift does not exist or find place anymore. I've read of holy elders ignorant of each other's native tongue speaking to one another each in his own language yet being perfectly understood by the other.  I've read of monks who cannot readily understand ancient Greek, yet can compose beautiful, profound hymns in it.

Long story short...all the charismatic gifts are alive and well in Orthodoxy, but they are tied to and expressed in conditions of profound holiness by those who have through holy labor and obedience become vessels of living prayer.
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2014, 05:08:41 PM »

With respect to the charismata, I think even a cursory read through the lives of Orthodoxy's holy elders and saints will reveal that these things are with us still as they have been since the time of the Apostles.  The difference is in the Orthodox faith, these gifts are tightly associated with profound holiness. No popcorn prophets allowed. Those among us who are recognized as having such gifts and as well or better known for their holiness and lives of unbroken prayer. Those who have such gifts have without exception (to my knowledge) had such giftings tested and approved by their own spiritual mothers and fathers who were likely so gifted as well. You might call it a charismatic tradition of disciples, age to age. The fruit of this caution is that when a holy elder/living saint gives a prophecy, it will happen as they say 100% just as in Apostolic times. This is something that occurs deep in the heart of the Church...no lone rangering because one "feels" inspired.

Part of the problem with the protestant charismatic movement is not in that they believe God to be eminent, active and interested in our lives, and willing to work wonders. Orthodox certainly agrees with this in principle. The thing is Protestants approach the gifts of the Spirit they way they do salvation...that is in terms of a type of contractual event. Say the sinners prayer sincerely, ask Jesus into your heart and bam you're saved. Want gifts, ask for them and just believe, and bam, their yours. Just have faith.  In Orthodoxy salvation is not just about being let in the door, but about browning in grace, being transformed to be like Christ. That transformation is the content of salvation. Likewise with the Holy Spirit. He is holy and until we have been made holy by the outworking of God's grace it is not appropriated for us to receive or try to exercise gifts of the Holy Spirit as if they were part of the swag that comes with being Christian. Consider perfumes and incense are compounded from a number of fragrant substances together with binders. These elements are ground together very finely mixed with the binders and let cure for weeks or months. Then their perfume/fragrance is ready to be shared upon burning coals in the Church. So are the souls of the holy. They raw goodness they have received, lovely as it may be on it own, is united with other lovely good things, ground together...refined, made small (humbled), then it is bound together and cured, like holy ones who live in seclusion and obedience for many years, then in the presence of God's people this holy soul is touched by fire, and the the scent and beauty of holiness is revealed. 

Fr. Seraphim Rose correctly observed that much of what passes as modern Charismatic practice in the Protestant world is effectively a form of Christian Shamanism. It may be well intentioned...may even by God's merciful grace do a good turn now and again, but it is an ultimately dangerous practice as its occasional successes are untempered by hiddenness, humility, and submission to the mind of the Church. This opens such souls (and their followers) to a condition known as Prelest/plany (delusion). And it can get very bad (take a look at The Arena by St. Ignati Brianchaninov). Because of this we understand the true full gifts of the Holy Spirit are invested with those who are mature and actively holy, not just theoretically/potentially holy in their day to day walk.

As for glossolalia, I speak as one who practiced it for 21 years...and could still if I wanted. Over time I came to regard "tongues" as mostly a psychological phenomenon/trick called psychomotor disassociation. The conscious control of the the speaking mechanism is sort of let go to run on its own. There may be subconscious control/modeling but the mind does not directed any intelligible speech. I was taught this was "praying in the Spirit" and true enough the focus of my attention could be deeply immersed in pray about a person/situation for which I knew needed help but about which I did not know how to pray. But...I could also let my mind wander to this and that while my mouth kept rattling on. The conclusion I eventually came to was that at times when focused I was indeed praying in my Spirit...or at least as well as I could without words. That is to say my heart lifted a petition of need to the Lord without articulating the need...sort of like the woman touching the hem of Christ's garment.  It was just a wordless reaching out to God for help. The "tongues" at best kept me from telling God what to do to handle things, at worst they were just a pleasant noise. 

I've not missed them in Orthodoxy. The Jesus prayer and it's variants serve every need I once used "tongues" for. Do I need to pray for myself, well then a few mindful repetitions of "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner" do fine. Is someone else in need, then "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon Thy servant (name)." Of I can called upon a saint or the blessed Theotokos for their prayers, "Blessed Theotokos open to me the doors of repentance." "Holy St. (name) speedy helper and intercessor pray for (me) (someone else).  Feeling challenged by dark spiritual forces, "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered. Let them flee from before His face. As wax vanishes before the fire, so let them vanish."  Quick simple prayers in which to immerse the mind and its attention....the so called "praying in the Spirit" tongues are just not missed.  That doesn't mean this gift does not exist or find place anymore. I've read of holy elders ignorant of each other's native tongue speaking to one another each in his own language yet being perfectly understood by the other.  I've read of monks who cannot readily understand ancient Greek, yet can compose beautiful, profound hymns in it.

Long story short...all the charismatic gifts are alive and well in Orthodoxy, but they are tied to and expressed in conditions of profound holiness by those who have through holy labor and obedience become vessels of living prayer.

Thank you. More than you know.

Ah, I could (and wish I had the chance) talk for hours on these kinds of things.

I do not disagree with anything you have said, by the way, though there are things beyond what I know that I couldn't say.

It was actually the discovery of "prelest" that led me to do some very deep soul-searching, and to really, really examine what happened in my life.

I do NOT hold myself up as anyone holy, or approaching what the monastics know and practice, or what they have developed.

But when I first came to God, He was simply gracious to me. I had no guidance, no knowledge to speak of, nothing. But for some months I prayed. It varied, but I probably prayed 8, 10 hours most days. Sometimes more. Not exaggerating. I was simply in love, and caught up so much in Him. It was the first thing I did in the morning, and it stretched on for hours. I had things I had to do in life, but I prayed during. Would sneak away for any minutes I could be alone, pray some more. And into the night, when it was quiet, I would stay up into the wee hours and pray alone for another 4, 6 hours.

It did have a very profound effect on me. And I did read some books by some monastics, desert hermits I think, mystics. I didn't have names for what they were, I just read the books. I learned some new types of prayer and practiced them. I think what happened was a result of that.

HOWEVER ...

Without guidance, I think this is not a good idea! God let me know in no uncertain terms that I was to go to Church! I wish it had been the Orthodox Church, but I probably was not ready then. Baptist (which I found before long did not align well with what I gained from all that prayer, but I went there for a year or two). Various Pentecostal denominations seemed reasonable to go along with the "gifts" I was believing in.

And actually, I think it was the Pentecostal teaching that led to my downfall, yes. There was a seed of pride planted. That was always something God dealt with in me, from the first. Spiritual pride is an ugly, ugly thing. I wept bitterly when I first saw what was in me, and how ugly it was. But getting rid of it is another matter, I suppose. Or else the churches I ended up in caused it to sprout anew again and again.

When I read what prelest was, it started to make sense. I have been told that it is impossible I had prelest, and apparently it is prideful even to think I did. LOL, I do not know. What I know is that I was led into error, and I became unable to discern what was from God, and what was something else.

As a result, I went through years of suffering. 5+ years of error on my part, that caused suffering of others. And 5+ years of repentance for my mistakes, that caused suffering for me.

I pray that has laid me low enough to keep me from that kind of mistake again, God willing. I pray He will keep me from it.

That is enough.

I have a lot to learn. These things are important to me. I am thankful to have been brought to the Orthodox Church.

Thank you for the reply, very much.
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Christ is in our midst!

My replies should not be taken as representing Orthodox teaching - I am only just learning myself.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
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