Not precisely. I had access to the writtings of various fathers, the scriptures and other works. When it became very obvious that the Orthodox Church is what the patristic church was - I became obediant to that. What you propose is essentially the starting phases of Nihilism - that no Truth, even Christian dogma is fully objective. But one need only look at the Anglican communion today to realize that is the reality of Anglicanism.
Your use of the word "obvious" is, naturally, subjective. And that's the hole: truth may be objective, but if it be so, then being independent of of selves it is thus still possible that our ability to perceive is "tainted" by subjectivity. And indeed, that is the easiest explanation for the varieties of theology that arise from the same material.
In the truth of ordinary reality, there are somethings one can be certain of, and some things one can be reasonably sure of, and so on through increasing degrees of uncertainty. I don't see any reason not to expect the same from religion. I see Anglicanism's problems as arising in the attempt to recognize this and at the same to avoid spelling out which things are certain and which are not. It's abundantly clear that the latter can no longer work.
Be that as it may, there are two things going on in this part of the discussion, one derived from the other. The first is an expression of a difference in personal values, and the second in particular is a faith you seem to express in systematization which I certainly reject. I reject it because the world isn't like that, and that one can see objectively that the world isn't like that, and indeed that one of the justifications for believing in Judaeo-Christian religion is that it predicts that the world is like this, when other religions don't really make much of an effort at accounting for it.
Taking your logic to its fullness no one need convert to Christianity. God even bestowed his grace in limitied forms to the ancient pagans. So why would they have converted to Christianity? Would you encourage a non Christian to convert to Christianity?
Well, here we meet with subjectivity again. Here we have you
version of my statements and working them through your
argumentation to produce a result which is, after all, favorable to the way you
already thought. At least you should be subject to correction about how you represent my statements, but even after that, if I disagree with your elaboration the possibility that you have elaborated it incorrectly should be addressed.
Ah, yes! You are the supreme authority in Christianity. You can judge when the fathers were correct and when they weren't.
Please-- the answer to this is so elementary that I'm annoyed at having to spell it out.
The answer has two levels. First, I take Jesus
as the supreme authority; the fathers are merely derivative of that authority. The root problem here is that I don't automatically
take the fathers as a sufficiently strong
authority to disbelieve that I have felt grace where I am now.
The second answer is to repeat that we (as individuals) have no choice but to make judgements about whom to follow. That takes us back to the difference in our personal situations. You felt empowered to examine the fathers and judge
that they were trustworthy. I am reluctant to take up such powers and instead, having felt the touch of the Spirit (or so I believe), must begin by ascribing some legitimacy to the situation in which that Touch occurred. I feel that there is an objective superiority to my starting point as opposed to yours, becaue mine is empirical and yours is merely intellectual.
If you are speaking of what I think you are (i.e the whole graceless heretic thing) I think you are making more of that than should be. That phrase is mostly used by schismatic (from the POV of "World Orthodoxy" - to qualify that for Anastasios) groups about my church. The phrase is rather rarely (if ever) used in respected Orthodox press (i.e any of the American seminaries, St. Herman's). How I view things (now at least) is that Orthodoxy if the fullness and that I would never want to be anything but Orthodox - but the whole who is graceless game is simply absurd. I guess I sound like a quasi ecumenist in my "old age" compared to a few years ago.
Well, I'm reluctant to really address this point here, because I think it's a big topic by itself. But I can fit in two comments:
First, "fullness" is either a euphemism, or a substantial retreat that I could just as well take as conceding the argument. "Fullness", after all, tends to sound bigger than "sufficiency". That in turn opens up the possibility of "legitimate" dissent from Orthodox positions.
Second: we're now in Anglican-like territory, where all the issues of degree confidence obtain.
Christ let those who couldn't accept his bread of life discorse leave his flock. Why did he tell them to remain, but simply agree to disagree?
We're back to the heresy of identifying the church as Jesus, when the issue is really whether, in carrying out the commands of The Head, the Body does so utterly effectively. I believe it does this well enough, but I do not believe it does this well.