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Author Topic: More questions on Orthodoxy  (Read 1256 times) Average Rating: 0
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Protestant seeker
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« on: October 10, 2002, 11:48:48 AM »

First I would like to thank everyone for all the previous
answers to my questions. They were very helpful.
I have a few more questions, and they are a bit
random, but here goes:

1) During the Divine Liturgy, I noticed that sometimes
the deacon will kiss the priest's hand, especially when
giving him the incense. Why is this and what does this
mean?

2) How does Orthodoxy define "the Church". The
Roman Catholic view is that where there is Peter,
or communion with him (i.e. his sucessor the Pope)
there is the church. What would the Orthodox
answer be to this question?

3) The Protestant answer to the question how do
you know what "the church" is since many different
groups/churches/denominations claim to be "the
church" is that "the true church is where the Gospel
is truly preached and the sacraments correctly
administered". Granted, this is a traditional Protestant
definition, and Protestants today don't think much of
the church at all, but what is the Orthodox response
to this? How does the Orthodox answer to what is
"the church" differ from Protestantism?

  O.k.  that is all for now, though I may think of some
more later. Oh, just to let you know I am aware of the
difference between the typical Protestant "invisible"
view of the church and Catholic/Orthodox view of
a visible church. The Protestant one is hogwash in
my opinion, just to let you know. I am interested, however, in how Orthodoxy identifies the visible
church and how this differs for the Catholic view
of the visible church and the Protestant view which
lets one define the church any way one pleases.
Ultimately, one cannot really define the church in
Protestantism in any meaningful sense.
   Thanks again for your help!

Cheers,

the Protestant seeker
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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2002, 12:37:25 PM »

Protestant seeker,

1. I don't know the exact historical answer but my guess why we kiss bishops' and priests' right hands is because of their share in Christ's priesthood. By so doing we are reverencing Christ. The bishop is essential for the sacraments of chrismation, the Eucharist, Confession, Orders and Anointing, and the priest is his deputy to give these (except Orders). If a priest is not under an Orthodox bishop, he can't function as a priest.

2. and 3. See the thread on this board about who the canonical Orthodox are. Basically the Church is whoever both holds the Orthodox faith in its entirety and is in the Orthodox communion of Churches, under a bishop who is in communion with the world's Orthodox bishops.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2002, 01:55:31 PM by Serge » Logged

Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2002, 12:56:04 AM »

Protestant seeker

1. I always saw it as a sign of respect. We also kiss the Priest's (and Bishop's) hand if we receive a blessing from him. All you have to do is ask him for one, and he will bless you. You should cup your hands in front of you while he blesses you (I would suggest with your head looking down), and then he'll put his hand in your cupped hands. Then, you kiss it. Smiley  All you have to do is go up to him when he isn't extraordinarily busy and say "Father, may I have your blessing?"

2. Georges Florovsky had a problem, how can I answer it? Wink The safest approach is not to "define" the Church so much as "describe" it. The Church is essentially the communion of the saints, having the same dogmatic beliefs, central traditions, and having valid apostolic succession. I think Ignatius said something akin to the RC view, except he applied it to all bishops. A valid Bishop, Priests, other clergy, and lay people, on the local level, participating in valid sacraments make up the Church. You aren't more of a Church by being in communion or out of communion with this or that Bishop. None of this is a definition, it's just an admittedly brief description.

3. One question that might be asked about is proper apostolic succession. We see very clearly, very early (96AD) the firm belief that Christ purposely appointed people who were in turn suppose to appoint (or more correctly, anoint) people. And why? Because, as Clement of Rome says, it was known that divisions would arise. Now, apostolic succession doesn't guarantee orthodoxy, but it does play a large part in a system that can be used to get the local Church back on track if it goes off course. What happens once the apostolic succession aspect is forsaken (ie. forsaken in content, even if the formality is continued, as in some Protestant Churches)? All of a sudden numerous schisms start, and these spawn schisms, and those schisms.... well, you get the idea. Whta's my point? There were certainly schisms in the early Church, but as long as everyone agreed with apostolic succession there existed a system of bringing everyone back together. Some of these schisms remain, but even now the system still offers the best chance for communion. After all, which would be easier, bringing the non-Chalcedonian Churches and the Orthodox Churches into communion, or trying to get, let's say, the various Wesleyan groups into one unified Church? I submit that God, knowing that there would be divisions, gave us a system that would at least give us a way to come back into communion (and it worked many times in bringing local churches back into communion with each other).  Actually, I don't think I answered your question at all, sorry  :-  

Justin

PS. I can give lots of early quotes on apostolic succession if you'd like.
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